Imagining the post-Covid office space


December 7, 2020

Words by: Joe Gurba

Photography by: Karey Wood

Avison Young reinvents their workspace for comfort and dynamism.

As an Edmonton-born success story and a chiefplayer in commercial realty, Avison Young has chosen to lead by example with their new office design. Covid-19 has transplanted the workplace into the homes of most downtown workers. Confident this virus will not outlive the office tower, Avison Young has responded by bringing more of home into their work space.

Just as Avison Young was moving from Bell Tower to Edmonton Tower to accommodate their double digit growth in staff, the world shut down, forcing their folks to work from home. But managing director Cory Wosnack and his team seized what seemed a dismal turn of events and turned it into an opportunity to reimagine their space for the next chapter in commercial real estate.

When I arrive I’m told I can simply drape my coat over a couch, setting the tone for what’s ahead. Wosnack takes me on a casual tour of a plethora of different spaces that strike a balance between professional and laid-back. We pass by everything from sun-bathed banquettes and chesterfields, to communal long tables, to automated sit-or-stand desks, surrounded by 21st floor views and paintings commissioned from Edmonton’s own Reece Schulte.

Various ‘collision rooms’ dot the premises, ranging from dimmed lounges to airy meeting rooms awash in natural light, providing an array of tones for collaborating with coworkers or hosting clients. Gone are the corner offices and cramped bullpens, instead all the enclosed offices are of equal size, situated in the core and facing out into the communal spaces. These small private offices are enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass, a handsome symbol of transparency. The prized corner views are now common areas available to new-hires and veteran staff alike.

Employees are no longer tethered to desktop computers or phones but are free to pop open their laptop wherever it suits them. Open space dominates with a wide variety of soft to hard seating for every posture. Different spaces can accommodate every group size down to solo work, offering bistros, living rooms, and spacious spreads of hardtop desks.

As an Edmonton-born success story and a chiefplayer in commercial realty, Avison Young has chosen to lead by example with their new office design. 

Organic colours and textures, wood finishes, and soft upholstery sets a whole new tone for their space. It taps into the calm and comfort of home without being trapped in a screen, isolated from your colleagues and clients, and taxing your mental wellness. The vibe is light footed, buoyant, and motivating.

Worse still is how the line begins to blur between your mental and emotional state at work versus at home. It can feel like game time never ends, one foot in the office and the other in your domestic life, straddling responsibilities. How do you stay motivated, busy, and positive? On the other hand, how do you entice your colleagues back to a stiff office after enjoying the soothing comfort of home these last several months? “A foosball table isn’t going to cut it,” Wosnack explains. “It’s the relationships that make the office fun and productive, not the accessories.”

Having created a more relaxed and democratic space, Avison Young has manifested an optimistic new model for office design, one that foreshadows a post-Covid world. Wosnack puts it most succinctly, “It should feel good to come to work.”

Share this article: