St. Louis companies share how offices are changing amid pandemic

Brown Smith Wallace is one of many St. Louis companies starting discussions about how the office should work when the pandemic is over

ST. LOUIS – Tony Caleca knows what his ideal office would look like.

Caleca, managing partner at Brown Smith Wallace, prefers a room with lots of natural light and little decorative furniture.

“I have my laptop and two monitors. That’s all I need now to get my job done,” he said.

In the coming months, he and other employees at the St. Louis-based accounting firm will be deciding what the workplace will be like in a post-COVID world. Much remains to be determined in terms of the physical appearance of the office and the intent of employees to use the space.

“What we do know is that we have the ability to create a destination for employees,” said Caleca.

Brown Smith Wallace is one of many St. Louis companies starting discussions about how the office should work when the pandemic is over. The company will have some real-world examples to draw inspiration from, such as software startup Curate and architecture firm Arcturis.

Here’s how these companies approached their return to work, and how Brown Smith Wallace is approaching it now.

CURATE

The business: An event software company

How his footprint has changed: Shrunk from 2,000 square feet to 1,000 square feet when moving from LaSalle Park to Kirkwood.

Why did that change?: Half of the 17 employees continue to work remotely, so the company did not need as much space.

What is the working week like?: The software launch introduced a flexible remote working policy during the pandemic and switched its face-to-face meetings to virtual ones. Some of its employees travel to the office every day, others work 100% remotely, while others take a hybrid approach, according to the company’s employees.

ARCTURIS

The business: An architecture and design office

place: Downtown St. Louis

How his footprint has changed: Moving from 720 Olive St. to Peabody Plaza, two blocks away in downtown St. Louis, reduced the footprint in half to 14,000 square feet.

Why did that change?: Although the workforce remained the same at 45, Arcturis decided they didn’t need that much space and decided not to renew the previous lease.

How the layout differs: The pandemic allowed the company to rethink the use of its space. Previously, Arcturis had closely grouped the working pods. Now there is an open, collaborative space where social distancing is possible and individual focus rooms where employees can have privacy. Shelly Beckemeier, Director of Workplace Strategy at Arcturis, says: “A place to work and take off your mask.”

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