Study trends in the economy. Right now inflation is on the rise which historically will tell you that a recession is imminent. Prepare your work and diversify your project types now so that when the more difficult times come you can specialize in the trends at hand. Typically it would be in housing authorities and with the sign of coming out of a recession being housing.
When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.
As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview David DeQuattro AIA, NCARB, LEED AP.
David is an experienced Architect who owns a successful multidisciplinary architectural, interior design and project management firm. His firm completes work along the east coast and as far west as Texas and has been in business since 1946. Their work type ranges from housing to industrial to commercial, institutional and educational projects. David’s firm is in the 98th percentile of profitable architecture practices in the country. David frequently reads and studies trends in the industry as well as the effects of terrorist attacks, trade wars and pandemics on the industry and its professionals in order to steer the practice to adapt and modify its standard practice.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.
I served in the military for 12 years and that service has had an effect on my thinking, self discipline, respect and the love of this great country. Those values have helped me shape the practice into a firm that delivers great service to our clients by adhering to those fundamental principles. Additionally the practice has gone through changing both environmental and economical challenging times that helped me steer the corporation around the obstacles and turned them to be positive experiences, not only for our team members but for our clients as well.
Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?
I envision the architectural work being similar and the need for developing environments that reflect the changing lifestyle in and around us. I do envision a change and a difference which will be the technique, the materials and the environment to allow us to make those changes.
What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
To understand what affects the daily struggles and challenges may have on the specific industry and to keep a positive outlook and continue moral support around the employees. They are who you spend the most time with and become a family. They are the most important component of your company. They show up every day to promote your organization. If you treat them how you would want to be treated you establish a company and a team that will follow your lead through the valleys and hills and have your back through the tough times.
What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?
In architecture you’re taught from when you are in school that it is a lifestyle and not a job. That architecture is surrounded and you surround architecture. The recent trend to work remotely will separate the young architects from the old. Traditionally methods and lessons were always handed down from one generation to the next. This I fear will be lost and with it will be decades of transformation of the architect. At RGB we offer RGB University. It is a learning environment that instills continued education from fellow colleagues and educates the younger generation on trends and tradition of the practice. Educating the younger generation is the key to a successful future in the practice of architecture and that is what we need to protect. If we reconcile the gap of real time versus virtual we can protect the traditional way of learning that have helped past architects for generations develop.
We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?
As I noted above this has some great features and abilities some of which we practice and take advantage of. Two of our higher level employees currently work in other states. This is a great ability to recruit talent around the area like never before. It also has its challenges to the younger population and their ability to socialize and learn from the older generation. That I believe is a far larger dilema to deal with in the future years.
We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?
I believe a work space that is clean and continues to be clean along with the use of “Zoom” technology will forever change the way we meet and the capacity in which we meet and work in. However we must attempt the hybrid model of working to maintain the human interaction that balances this working world of relationships. We think of interactions differently than we did just 24 months ago and how the architect creates multifunctional / public spaces will change their appearance and functions for decades to come.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?
Technology drives the “bus” and with the recent shortage of microchips is an example of how reliant we are with technology. Technology will continue to shape our lives and that includes the surrounding environments, materials and even how we function on a day to day basis. As this technology changes so will the spaces we exist in thereby advancing design well into the future.
Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?
Quarterly we treat our employees and their significant others to a “out of work” day where we take a sail or do something collaboratively to enforce the team experience but also to get to know and enjoy the time with their families and each other rather than just come to work each day and work and then leave. I believe the experience of a professional office should also expand to the experience of human interactions and just having fun once in awhile. That produces more production, a happier employee and a team spirit.
It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?
I have read that human beings enjoy a rhythm in their life. Unfortunately through computers new stories tend to be flashes to get the attention of readers’ limited attention span. The culture that the pandemic produced will not last due to the human spirit and the American spirit of habits and being available and having the ability to enjoy life. I believe people would rather be comfortable and create a habit or rhythm of life and over time this trend will come back with the comforts of technology but not be subject to such threats and flashing stories that have most people shaking their heads. The greatness of anything is the ability to enjoy life and the secret to a happy one. Maintaining the balance between our work style and personal interaction should be the most important message leaders should promote and support.
Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Study trends in the economy 1. Right now inflation is on the rise which historically will tell you that a recession is imminent. Prepare your work and diversify your project types now so that when the more difficult times come you can specialize in the trends at hand. Typically it would be in housing authorities and with the sign of coming out of a recession being housing.
- Working from home 2. Take advantage of this title by exploring hiring within other regions of experienced professionals that could help with the added market trends in number 1..
- The use of renewables 3. With the latest infrastructure bill there are many references to the use of non-carbon techniques and practices. Explore such options for building trends to offer an alternative product that may capture various clients and separate you from the competition.
- Training the novice to be experts. The last great recession illuminated about 60% of the architectural jobs. These professionals left the industry never to return. Continue to educate the young to help make that jump to educating them with greater knowledge thereby increasing their level of experience.
- The consolidation of the industry. Over the last 3 decades certain industry trends where consolidated to increase efficiency and growth and have been quite successful. The construction and design industry is the next too move to that area. By working together and alongside opposed to opposite you can achieve greater speed and efficiency and those will lead to greater profitability within the company. As a result service and responsiveness of the client to this efficiency will be far greater and that the traditional methods that have plagued our industry for years.
I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
And how has this quote shaped your perspective? Conan the barbarian “That which does not kill me makes me stronger” It places things in perspective and allows you to step back and to analyze whatever problem you face into perspective of the larger issues that can occur. By saying and thinking this phase in front of whatever challenges you face usually helps you digest the issue and move forward .
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.
Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama or Condoleezza Rice . All three people came under great challenges through their lives and persevered. That strength, resistance to ridicule and clear direction gave them the power and determination to overcome life’s and societies challenges.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Simply email me at [email protected]
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.