Following the re-opening of our London-based showroom back in April, we spoke to a few members of the Creatif team about their return to a working life at 79 Clerkenwell Road.
You must be pretty excited that the showroom has finally re-opened it’s doors again?
“Of course! Things are obviously very different at the moment, but it’s been really good spending more time there over the last few weeks. It’s just been really good to see Clerkenwell and the surrounding areas start to slowly come back to life.”
How is the showroom refresh going?
“Really well so far. It has obviously been very different to how we’ve operated in the past when making updates to the space – the safety of the team and our external partners is obviously something we take very seriously, so there is more cleaning, much stricter scheduling with works and deliveries. But the team has been really great, so that makes me much happier.
The layout of both floors is being totally re-vamped, so everything will look very different. We’ve also launched a number of new products and solutions over the past 12 months, and some of them I’m seeing for the first time, so it’s been exciting to get hands-on with them.
Personally I’m most excited about our new range of Constructif Mobile Planters that have just arrived. They look amazing and the feedback we’ve had so far has been really positive.
- Constructif Mobile Planter
The Marketing team are making plans at the moment to make sure we have some great photos to share.”
And how long until the refresh is complete?
“We’ll be done within the next 4-6 weeks. We’ll be making some announcements on social media nearer the time, so keep an eye out for those. We are taking visits by appointment, which you can do via the Showroom page on our new website.”
So, what have you learned from working through the pandemic?
“On the positive side; my work/life balance has improved quite considerably. Also I feel my productivity has risen as a result of losing the daily commute. I also felt that we became closer as a team during lockdown with lots more communications and group sessions.
On the not-so-positive side; I hate my home office and my body is protesting at sitting down for 15 months. My activity levels have dropped considerably.”
And what changes to your routine have you been making while adjusting to a return to work over the past month?
“I have had to get up earlier when I’ve needed to be in London in good time. We have re-opened the showroom diary to keep up to date with appointments and I have had to retrieve my work shirts from the bottom of my wardrobe.”
How has that occasional return to London life been?
“The trains are emptier but getting busier. Commuters are adhering to social distancing and mask wearing, more or less. Lockdown habits are still in evidence however there is still a quietness to the London streetscape. Hospitality is slowly coming back but there have been some casualties. I can’t wait for the choice to come back. Greeting visitors to the showroom is always fun but now there is a kind of negotiation as well, for example, do I need to wear a mask inside etc.
We are about to undertake a showroom refresh with new colourways and new furniture which is really exciting. The team especially Kirsty has worked extra hard on this. Cant wait to show our customers. I’m also looking forward to our first event.”
Finally, as somebody who spends a lot of their time assisting with designs on projects, what changes are you seeing in workspace design that will continue to grow and evolve?
“It’s all about flexibility, giving the workers a variety of spaces to work in. Despite what people say I believe there will be a split between home and office working during the working week. Quiet and private spaces will be needed to make those zoom calls! The pandemic has really shaken up the world of work in ways no one would’ve anticipated pre 2020.”
As someone who previously spent the majority of their time either in the Creatif office, or out assisting clients with projects in person, you must be excited to be finally getting out and about a bit more?
“For me, working from home was a novelty to begin with, has worn off however and I’ve realised a lot of the benefits of the office I previously took for granted - face-to-face collaboration for example.
I’ve been back to work for months now and I couldn’t wait to get back to my normal routine!”
You’ve spent a few days in the showroom over the last few weeks. What was it like to be back?
“It’s exciting to see the showroom getting an update, and I can’t wait to see the end result when the team is finished. I really miss holding events, so it will be great when we can eventually start doing that again.
The majority of people I have spoken to are welcoming more face to face activity, so it has been great to welcome them back into the showroom and share our latest solutions with them. Particularly our new Constructif variations - the new Mobile Planters and Media Units are fantastic and the feedback I've had so far from people has all been really good.
- Constructif Media Unit
It’s also been interesting to see and learn about the different approaches and strategies being employed for a return to work between companies, individuals and even geographical areas.”
And in terms of workspace design, what changes are you noticing most of all recently?
“The requests for moving wall systems to divide spaces and provide multi-use environments have become increasingly common of late. Organisations and companies have been wanting to maximise the flexibility of their space more than ever before, and the pandemic has only seemed to increase this demand as people look to build future-proof workspaces.”
What would you say are some of the things you’ve learned from working remotely during the pandemic?
“I have learned how well a team can come together when all working remotely during such a difficult time – it has been a great to be a part of it! This would be the biggest positive for me. Re a negative – I don’t think there is one! The whole industry is growing again, something we most definitely can’t complain about!"
And now that you’ve been able to spend a bit more time in London and the showroom, how has that transition been?
“Going down to London at least once a week, one thing I have noticed is that London is getting busier by the week – every time I go down there are more cars on the street, more people walking past and more people wanting to pop into the showroom.
I actually joined the company during the pandemic, and so when I was first introduced to my clients it was on Zoom. It’s been great but there is nothing like meeting someone face-to-face, so I always enjoy seeing someone in the flesh. I think that with the vaccine rollout continuing as it is, it won’t be long until it will return to what like was like previously.”
In terms of a return to work and what changes to workspaces are being made to accommodate this?
“In talking to various designers, I have found that there seems to be two schools of thought. The first is that working from home was just a novelty, that people have got bored of it and now want to come back to the office.
The other is the opposite and based around the hybrid model – companies are putting far more of an emphasis on collaboration and wellness, with far less individual desks etc.
This is great for everyone involved in the fit out industry, as whatever way a company may look at this there are going to be changes to the designs of their office environment needed.”