How Rosslyn's outdoor office pop-up safely welcomed professionals back into the community
Written by Mary-Claire Burick, Rosslyn BID President; reposted from the Arlington Chamber of Commer Blog.
2020 has been a tremendously difficult year for businesses and professionals globally, but it also brought unique opportunities to reimagine the future of the workplace and experiment with new ways of safely bringing teams together for in-person collaboration.
With so many of us now working remotely (and feeling isolated in the process) the Rosslyn BID team wanted to create new options for those who needed a change from those zoom meetings! And so the idea was born for O2, the free outdoor workspace that the Rosslyn BID popped up in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park.
Here are a few take-aways from this experiment, in the hopes that it sparks others to think about how we can pivot to not only make the best of our new working situation but lean into new healthy work habits.
Rosslyn has always been a busy neighborhood, home to 25,000 employees and 15,000 residents, and many of them have been working remotely during the pandemic. O2 felt like a natural solution to help safely bring our community back together and in a clean, productive space that offers the same benefits as a collaborative work environment, with the added bonus of fresh air to clear your mind and stimulate your thinking.
We launched O2 in mid-October and closes for the season this week. We approached it as a way to pilot new ways of working, and we were thrilled to see a good number of Rosslyn residents and employees coming to use it each week – enough that we are hoping to bring it back in the Spring!
It’s always easier to transform an existing public amenity (Gateway Park) then start from scratch, so we thought a lot about how to incorporate wellness — mental, physical and social — to create a retreat for Rosslyn’s professionals in need of a change of scenery. O2 was carefully designed to include essential office amenities; whiteboards, free WiFi, a TV, any forgotten office supplies, standing desks and boardroom tables (available for free reservation). We even partnered with several Rosslyn restaurants to offer discounts to O2’s guests.
In our current environment, health and safety had to be foundational elements, so we paid a lot of attention to those details, creating properly spaced workstations, one-way flow of traffic and a cleaning schedule to sanitize each workstation in between use. Additionally, our use of an online reservation system and check-in desk helped us streamline operations, control capacity and ensure a seamless experience.
Partnerships are key when undertaking a large-scale project like this, so once our team conceived the idea for O2, we took it to the Parks and Recreation Department who helped us ensure the park was ready for its new role as a temporary outdoor office.
We hope you got the chance to join us in shaping our “next normal” in workplaces, with a meeting outside at O2. But if not, we hope to bring it back for you to enjoy in the spring!