Jun 18, 2020


by Katie West

Virtual Charrette: Designing the Ultimate Remote Work Environment

Even as workplaces reopen, it has become apparent that working outside traditional office spaces will be more commonplace than ever before. How will design respond to this new reality, while maximizing employee productivity and supporting workspace functionality?

To further explore the future of remote work, our Emerging Professionals group hosted a virtual design charette encouraging employees to break away from their own home office routines, flex their creative muscles and let their imaginations run wild. With a prompt centered on the “new normal” of the virtual/home office environment, several teams came together to develop solutions that may not be too far out of reach in the very near future.

From a PlaceMAT with built-in tech accessories for working on the go, an entirely virtual workspace using AR/VR/MR,  a flexible “work from anywhere” solution that can easily fit in a backpack, to a versatile, modular office kit-of-parts that includes a hammock for mental health breaks, each team delivered some truly fascinating concepts and a welcome reprieve for us all in these unprecedented times. Find more details on these thought-provoking creations, below, and hear from the design teams themselves. 

Team #1 Concept: “PlaceMAT”

Concept Summary: In a world where working from anywhere is becoming more common, PlaceMAT is designed to become that “anywhere.” It is inspired by people in local parks who lay out their blankets as a means to enjoy the outdoors. PlaceMAT is compact when folded up and lightweight for easy carrying but unfolds to provide a 6ft x 6ft workspace wherever you want it. When unfolded, there’s a soft mat for sitting, a smooth and sturdy surface for your device or a writing surface, and a unique accessory in each of the four corners that are selected by you. From solar panels to cup holders, there is a range of options that can be built into PlaceMAT so that everything you need to work is right where you left it each time you set up to work. There is a range of sustainable textile options for both the soft polyester and cotton top and the water-resistant underside that allow you to customize your PlaceMAT even more. From its lightweight, compact design to the built-in, customized accessories, we’re confident you’ll find that PlaceMAT is the perfect “anywhere” for you.

Team #2 Concept: “Little Verse”

Concept Summary: In this cloud-based post-COVID work-life, we are finding that our workspace is limited by physical place. However, when the work environment is virtual, we no longer have to design our workspace – instead, our workspace is shaped by our designs. Utilizing today’s current and future technologies in AR/VR/MR, we can achieve good design, client satisfaction, contractor satisfaction, and consultant satisfaction while still maintaining human social interaction. Our goals of providing RESULTS BEYOND ARCHITECTURE are the same, but what can change in this new normal is our methods.
Architecture is poetry in built form, but at all of its touchpoints must remain in its design for human use.  At the most elemental level, the [AR/VR/MR] solutions deliver a more educated and collaborative experience for all those a part of every aspect of our business from creating new business opportunities to seeing our projects from lines to built form.  All of this can be done while upholding the safety of everyone involved at the highest priority.

Team #3 Concept: “Out of Office”

Concept Summary: Introducing “Out of Office,” the flexible work from anywhere solution that brings comfort and efficiency to almost any environment. OOO stores in six tubes that are easily carried in a backpack. In 5 minutes (or less) you can unpack a chair, work surface with a huge monitor, a canopy with a battery backup base, and a footstool. In a compact, 15-pound carry case, you can travel anywhere and work in comfort. Not included in the initial offering, but future options could include a rain screen, solar panels, custom colors and Logos, and designer carry cases from Vera Bradly and Michael Kors.

Team #4 Concept: “Mod-19”

Concept Summary: Mod-19 aims at creating an environment that is obtainable to everyone and adapts to different conditions. Our kit-of-parts approach to working-from-home combines Le Corbusier’s Modulor with the convenience of architecture in a box. Mod-19 implements cross-laminated timber (CLT), flexible fabric strips and recycled plastic panels. These sustainable materials provide structural integrity, thermal insulation and versatility to the design. Mod-19 can be assembled by anyone in any location. The prefabricated CLT panels are no bigger than 2’-6” and employ tongue and groove connections. A system of notches in the wood panels based on Le Corbusier’s Modulor provides customizable desk heights and dedicated locations for accessories like whiteboards and storage shelves. The pod allows the occupant to diligently focus on work or take a mental break to decompress. Mod-19 is a personalized-modular buffer that creates a better work from home environment.


Katie West

Katie's creative passion for design makes her a perfect fit for Little's Workplace Interiors team. When she's not designing, she's orchestrating monthly educational seminars, coaching the firm's summer volleyball team, maintaining a robust materials library and leading the company's emerging professionals group. In her downtime, Katie can be found attending or planning the next industry networking event or social gathering.

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