11.05.2020 Leoni Spies

How is Tokyo-based Florian Busch Architects office working during the coronavirus crisis?

How has everyday life in your office changed?

Four of the first week’s observations:
What used to be “everyday routine” is now “everyday improvisation”.
Which is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing.
The new situation forces us to try and test new modes of working, and there is much to be learned and taken away for the future.

Although in Tokyo we are not technically in a mandatory lockdown, FBA servers and computers have been set up to be remotely accessible, and we have moved to "working from home” during the last week of March. Instead of the meetings in the office or at clients’ and collaborators’ offices, there are now several online conference calls per day. As we are used to conference calls with teams spread around the world, this is a rather straightforward experience. Construction site visits, where physical presence cannot easily be replaced by a “video call”, are a different challenge altogether.
Greatly missed is the spontaneous: A mere week of physical separation has already shown the importance of adhoc chats, quick informal meetings, desk-neighbour exchanges; the moments when mutual presence drives the conversation and thinking process.

The irony of involuntary isolation is that lots of distractions often mean more effort is needed to concentrate.

With the right setting —good weather and a roof terrace help—, “working from home” can be, albeit not in the most practical way, a somewhat inappropriate "fun experience" of back-to-basics.

How do you deal with the Corona crisis – do your projects continue?

We are witnessing both, projects which continue with close to minor disruptions (“All of a sudden, as if that had been a secret, people begin to realise that all toilets are made in China and won’t make it in time to the construction sites…”), and projects which are put on indefinite hold.
The more daunting prospect is what comes after: It would be naïve to assume that the impact on the economy will not lead to a long drought of projects.

What tips can you give colleagues?

Embrace the situation for its many unexpected opportunities — which will inevitably emerge between all the challenges.
Flexibility, but also curiosity are more necessary than ever.

What are your plans for after the quarantine?

Reassess. Refocus. Restart.

Photo: Florian Busch Architects

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