christopher President Bill Zink, P.E. participated on a panel for this week’s ABC Metro Washington event, Coffee & Conversation – How COVID 19 has Affected Design. The panelists, who included Francisco Gonzalez of Gensler and ABC Metro Chairman Neil Stablow of Donohoe, discussed the current state of the industry from their company’s perspectives.

Bill shared that christopher’s backlog has kept work steady throughout the quarantine. The residential demand remains strong, as does the demand for data centers, although the latter are moving to other parts of the state as Northern Virginia has fewer available sites. Client service remains as important as ever and christopher is working on efficient solutions to stay in contact with our current clients and partners.

Francisco Gonzalez of Gensler agreed that some industries are faring better than others and pointed out that the DC market is fortunate to have active projects in government in professional services. For Donohoe, the senior living industry has been the strongest through the quarantine, while some large-scale projects are in a holding pattern due to lenders and owners remaining cautious.

Panelists and attendees alike agreed that the conversation has shifted from “a sprint to a marathon”, as Gonzalez framed it. Firms are looking ahead to what will happen in the next year, five years and ten years, as well as how the development of a vaccine will affect the timeline. The panel speculated on whether employees would prefer to work from home long term, and how that would affect the office industry, as well as residential patterns.

Bill Zink also pointed out another industry shift – in the public sector, local jurisdictions have either already implemented or are rapidly move towards electronic submissions. This is a positive outcome from the quarantine that in the long run will save trees, money and time for firms and jurisdictions alike.

As Northern Virginia workers return to the office, Stablow pointed out that general contractors have led the way in job site safety. As essential businesses, many employees have remained on these sites since March, and therefore have four months of practice to help inform their office-based counterparts on remaining safe. Neil also praised the industry for what he called a “new level of collaboration,” as partners and even competitors are willing to share insights and tips to help others deal with the unprecedented events.

Coffee & Conversation is a summer webinar series hosted by ABC Metro Washington which provides a casual gathering for member leaders to discuss their issues and concerns, and to share solutions and guidance on how to tackle difficult problems for now and in planning for the future. The next event, “Maintaining Company Culture in a New Environment,” occurs next Wednesday, July 29.