Q&A: CBT Architects CIO sees a ‘hybrid’ remote-work plan as harder than WFH

While the rush to work from home (WFH) upended many corporate plans as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, returning to work might be even harder, according to Nirva Fereshetian. "There’s no going back to where we were," she says.

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Editor's note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Adopting remote work company-wide was a tall order during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Nirva Fereshetian, CIO at Boston-based architecture and interior design firm CBT Architects. But supporting a “hybrid” workforce will be an even bigger challenge as staffers look to return to the office.

Like most CIOs, Fereshetian had to ensure that employees remained connected as working from home became a necessity earlier this year as the pandemic worsened. That meant access to cloud apps, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams – previously used ad-hoc across the firm's U.S. and international operations – became crucial to productivity. Use of collaboration apps also soared, proving their importance for team communication and productivity.

As CBT Architects prepares for the eventual return of staff to its offices, the challenge will be to support workers whether they are at their desk, at home, or anywhere else. It means rethinking the design of physical meeting rooms, adapting workplace processes and investing in digital tools to bridge the gap with remote staff. One focus will be on creating collaboration spaces, with meeting rooms fitted with “smart office” technology that eliminates the need to touch devices.

CBT Architects CIO Nirva Fereshetian CBT Architects

CBT Architects CIO Nirva Fereshetian.

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