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Life after Lockdown: Steve Coster, MD of Hassell

Branko Miletic speaks to Steve Coster, MD of Hassell, on adapting to work following COVID-19.



BY Branko Miletic

11 June, 2020


“Our people across all Hassell studios have been amazing. I have always admired their strategic and creative thinking, but I also have so much admiration for their adaptability, resilience and their passion for what they do. It really shines through at times like these,” says Coster.

“We’ve supported our teams to stay just as energised, creative and focused about their project work as distributed teams as when they are in the studio. Luckily, our people are already very familiar with collaborating on projects across cities and studios, using teams from around the world.”

“We are probably watching the pipeline of project work and potential new projects even more closely than usual! We’re tracking our forecast on a day-by-day basis across the business internationally to make sure we are seeing changes and responding instantaneously given all the uncertainty.”

“We’ve also made a point of staying connected even more frequently than we usually do. For example our Board, our shareholder group, and all the global Principal group are meeting weekly”

As to how his firm is finding the new work paradigm at present, Coster says that, “It’s a classic both/and paradox. Both frustrating, and also refreshing.”

“On the one hand, I really miss the social interaction of the studio, and being around my colleagues from whom I draw a lot of energy, inspiration and enjoyment. Also, the variety of my usual work patterns – changing rapidly between places, locations, cities and countries regularly – usually keeps my energy up. So being in the same place day-in and day-out has been unusual and tiring for me.”

“On the other hand, more time at home with my family has been fantastic, even with the extremely challenging juggle of helping the kids manage school from home while also working. It has been so interesting to be closer to them doing their school work, seeing up close their different attitudes, approaches, strengths, challenges, and how they respond to situations differently in the moment in a way I never usually have access to has been fascinating and really enjoyable.”

In terms of what are some positive results of this working arrangement, Coster notes that, “An interesting thing is the way our people have picked up the challenge of staying socially and creatively connected beyond just the project work – maintaining that vibrant studio culture and informal interaction across technology platforms.”

 “We pride ourselves on being a great place to work – an engaging, inclusive, curious and social environment – where everyone is constantly learning and developing together.”

“The positive environmental impact of reduced travel is also a major positive. If attitudes to video meetings can be permanently shifted as a result of this, such that we can all reduce the frequency of travel, that would be great for the planet and also for our family lives and lifestyles.”

“This can also, in turn, make it easier for families to participate more equally in the workforce on an ongoing basis, which could be really critical in unlocking the gender representation in the industry as family responsibilities can be more easily and more evenly shared by all parents.”

 

Article originally appeared in Architecture & Design


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