The Greatest Global Workforce Experiment in Modern Times

A summer 2020 issue of Metropolis digs into the issues that are changing the future of work — from quarantine to neurodiversity.

Upriseart Offices Garruppo 020820 102 Edit
COVID-19 is forcing us to redefine where and how we work, with the office acquiring a new focus on culture and community. Shown here: the workplace of Uprise Art, designed by Office of Tangible Space. Courtesy Genevieve Garruppo

This issue is dedicated to the workplace while we are in the throes of the greatest global workforce experiment in modern times.

As I write this, more people are unemployed worldwide than have been in the past 100 years. Businesses are taking extreme measures in an attempt to ride out what is expected to be a drawn-out slowdown; only time will tell which of those measures were both necessary and wise. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a white-collar job—the kind of work that used to happen in the office—are learning to do things in ways we never did before, bereft of many support systems.

The good news is that when it comes to workplace design, we have tools to deal with this new reality. Over the past decade, designers, researchers, advocates, and analysts have been developing frameworks and ideas that, until now, existed on the fringes of mainstream practice. Not anymore. In “Work Will Never Be the Same” we dive into five such concepts: experience management, loneliness, neurodiversity, public health, and remote work. Each of these ideas is a challenge to business as usual, but we think they should all be taken seriously.

While we chip away at these immediate problems, we can’t lose sight of the larger issues facing us, as critic Mimi Zeiger points out in “Shelter and Place”. At Metropolis, we recognize that the global pandemic and the climate crisis are interwoven in many ways, so we are trying to find ways to keep the A&D community connected on both fronts.

In early June, in conjunction with NeoCon, we launched the Metropolis Sustainability Lab, a new section of our website presented by Aquafil. Dedicated to the details of designing and specifying sustainably, the Lab will be updated regularly with articles on essential tools and perspectives, webinars with industry leaders, and easily accessible resources from a host of product manufacturers. Go to to start exploring.

Meanwhile, our weekly webinars continue to track the shifts in architecture and design practice. Every Tuesday,
we gather some of the best minds in the business and offer the opportunity to register for free and ask questions in CEU- accredited sessions. You can register for our upcoming sessions or view past discussions at

Through the Sustainability Lab, our webinars, and editorial coverage, we want to help keep everyone’s eyes on the big picture as our industry navigates numerous daily challenges. In the midst of the tragedies of the pandemic, we can join forces to build a more just and sustainable world. Let us find strength in one another and turn this crisis into a creative opportunity.

You may also enjoy “5 Workplace Concepts to Start Taking Seriously After COVID-19

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