Reflecting on 2020

1st February 2021

For all of us, 2020 has been a year like no other in recent memory. Since the first lockdown hit in March, we’ve all had to adapt to new ways of living and working; often, finding it hard to avoid blending the two too greatly. At the same time, changing ways of working have opened up new opportunities and experiences that may go on to become permanent fixtures in our daily routines. As the first month of 2021 draws to a close, we have had time to think and reflect on the year that has passed, and asked our team members what some of the challenges and new experiences they had that shaped their lives during 2020. Below is a compilation of their thoughts.

The sudden enforced change to our working routine was always going to present a myriad of challenges for us to adapt to. Some of these issues have impacted every working professional able to work from home during the pandemic: mundane yet frustrating internet connectivity issues; dropping out of Teams calls; interruptions from four-legged members of the family; to a general feeling of a loss of communication between team members. Yet others are intrinsically linked to our role as designers: the formerly simple ability to gather around a table with colleagues and pen and paper in hand, and drawing in a live environment, has been an experience sorely missed by many.

Perhaps the greatest challenge has come from trying to separate work and home life, eking out space to set up a desk in rooms not intended to be offices and then winding down at the end of the day; a particular challenge for members of the team studying for their Part 3 qualifications. We have also had a number of new recruits join us during the pandemic, who have had to quickly get used to new software, and meet new team members solely in the virtual realm.

Yet despite all these challenges, the change in working practices during 2020 has also opened up many new opportunities and experiences. Losing the commute has been a relief for many, giving back valuable time and flexibility; an extra half hour to take a walk, go on a run, or read a book. New ways of working have meant new learning opportunities, and has shown that the industry is able to adapt, and bring with it efficiencies; reducing travelling times has improved availability, often greatly improving progress on projects. Remote working has also given teams a greater feeling of trust and responsibility, and with it a sense of empowerment that has produced fantastic work from team members at all levels.

Ultimately, the pandemic has given us all a chance to really prove that the principles laid out in our ethos really do define who we are; that when we say to clients and consultants that we’re flexible and adaptable, we meet that challenge, centred around the amazing adaptability of our team to a different way of working, maintaining a momentum equivalent to working in the office. We are also proud of the way we have adapted as a business, using the breadth of our skills and experience to re-focus our efforts on residential work that has meant we’ve been able to continue to operate successfully in what has been a challenging time for the industry as a whole.

With our team members at the heart this success, there’s no better way to finish this piece with some of their words that really sum up how their contributions have helped pull us through during what has been an incredibly difficult year:

“As a business we’ve rebranded, improved our offering through BIM development and regular design reviews, we’ve recruited new team members, strengthened our internal understanding of our diversity and the issues facing the industry, but more than anything we’ve done it as a team – something that’s really challenging in this environment but I think we’ve worked really hard to ensure we keep moving in the same direction as one big team.”

Related News

  • We are hiring

    We are looking for talented and enthusiastic Part 1 & 2 Architectural Assistants and Architects to join our team at GPAD. At GPAD, we foster an environment of growth amongst colleagues, clients, and project teams. We support and encourage our team to continuously better themselves and keep up with the latest industry trends. GPAD has […]

    28th June 2022 | News

  • GPAD completes Vienna House in Birmingham

    Vienna House underwent a refurbishment and extension to inject personality and create characterful offices. The scope of work included improvements to the reception area and the open-plan office floor plates which have been upgraded with a contemporary, warm interior fit-out and increased floor to ceiling heights. A new build cycle pavilion element has been added […]

    14th April 2022 | News

  • Build The Way Crowdfunder

    We are reaching out to our network to ask for your support to help us raise £11,000 for our internship programme Build The Way with POoR Collective, to help make architecture and the built environment more accessible. Build The Way aims to provide less costly and more accessible routes into architecture by providing internship opportunities for young people. […]

    14th April 2022 | News

  • Adding value to office design through roof terraces; featured in OnOffice

    Due to recent circumstances the necessity for outdoor space has never been more important, not only due to the pandemic but also the general move towards improving mental and physical wellbeing within the workplace. With the average person spending 30% of their life working and the move back to office environments commencing, outdoor office space […]

    24th September 2021 | Press, News