Design Sprint - Maximising design development during social isolation

Gordon Shewan
The construction industry is facing many challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, of that there is no doubt. However without the need to travel to the office, to meetings or to site visits, clients and consultant teams are faced with a new opportunity – more desk time than ever to progress with design development of projects in the pre-construction phase.

At Faithful+Gould we are helping our clients to maintain progress and maximise the activity that can be carried out during this time. As part of our commission with the City of Edinburgh Council to deliver three new Passivhaus primary schools and a community high school, we have developed with our lead designer Architype and our design team a “How to Guide” for maximising design development during social isolation.

Step 1: Understanding Our Client’s Challenges

Client organisations’ ability to carry on with “business as usual” may not be possible. Some may have the right IT infrastructure to work remotely however some parts of their business may not be able to deliver their normal services and resources may be diverted away to deal with these ever-changing challenges. Communication with the client project sponsor is critical to understanding their priorities. Identifying what resource will be affected and what aspects of the project they are comfortable to proceed with, we can establish ways that Faithful+Gould can step in and help out clients and their teams.

Step 2: Successful Video Conferencing

With all parties of the project team now working from home successful video conferencing is key. Design team workings, user group consultations and project board meetings can all be conducted via VC. But we must get the set up right.

By sharing information in advance of the meeting, setting an agenda with timings and clear objectives, video conferencing can prove to be more focused, productive and collaborative than regular meetings. Successful VC can be achieved by;

  • Using software or an online platform which is easy for all to use, free for third party stakeholders, capable of utilising web cam and sharing presentations
  • Establishing clear protocols so all attendees have an opportunity to share their opinions
  • Tailoring presentations to focus everyone’s thinking
  • Carefully selecting attendees to those that are critical

Presentations can also be recorded and circulated to any stakeholders unable to attend. This can also prove valuable to recording any key decisions.

Step 3: Reviewing Programme and Deliverables

Under regular circumstances clients will have a prescriptive list of outputs for each RIBA Stage. That is just good practice. However some of those outputs may not be feasible to complete during social isolation. It is essential to review the outputs and focus on progressing those that we can; agreeing those which do not sit on the critical path and are readily moved to a later date without impacting the overall end date. The focus is on controlling and moving forward what we can, whilst making conscious decisions about anything that might have to go on hold..

Although the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be known, by following the above process, Faithful+Gould are helping our clients be prepared to re-commence in full, minimising any delays and cost pressure for them and their supply chain.

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