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Bringing Joy Back into Shared Spaces

How to Design Integrated Experiences for the Next Normal

Erica Moreti

Senior Director, Innovation Consulting EMEA, EPAM Continuum
White Paper

No one was prepared for the pandemic. Stress and fear have been dominant during lockdown. We’ve seen organizations pushed to their limits, particularly those with business models and services built on shared public spaces. What’s more, it’s become clear that many of the physical experiences people once enjoyed without a second thought have been abandoned or are engaged in very selectively.

We now truly understand the value of responding quickly to any disruption that comes our way. There’s a lesson here that we need to take into the future. That is, flexibility, adaptability and, perhaps most importantly, positivity are essential for thriving in uncertainty. The question is: How can we build a culture of preparedness to help us face disruptions to come?

Behaviors have changed, mostly out of necessity. The way people experience social activities and do business must change, too. When rethinking how experiences for the next normal are designed, it’s important to address these stressful situations, provide reassurance, and support the wellbeing of all stakeholders. Many strategies currently lack these elements.

Transitioning from emergency mode to the next normal has been challenging for many. There are several variables involved when a business is ready to start recovery or regrowth. For example, some industries, like airlines or healthcare, already have a set of regulations and security measures with which they must comply. So, they’re more likely ready to move to the regrowth stage and explore new spaces than businesses that aren’t attuned to such models.

As we tiptoe out of lockdown and into the next normal, we must design ways to introduce joy back into experiences. Fast.

Anything can be turned into an opportunity. By designing new, human-centered integrated experiences, in which digital and physical elements are knitted tightly together, we can create opportunities that will be resilient enough to outlast COVID-19 as well as the next major crisis that comes our way. The time has come to reconsider all the elements that make up our current business and evolve them for the future.

When we connect the familiar with the novel, we can also create more seamless and complementary experiences between physical and digital while broadening business reach. If your businesses looks at its current physical space services and capabilities and thinks about the remote or touchless experiences needed today, you’ll see that expanding value lies in blending both worlds to create something new. Becoming remote by design could help accomplish this.

One thread that can tie together these new, integrated experiences: Digital adoption. As organizations have made moves to adapt, digital adoption has rapidly accelerated. This digital acceleration will be more relevant to some industries more than others. For example, the retail and travel industries are faced with getting people back into communal spaces safely while thoughtfully managing capacity at the same time. Which is why they might consider something like our Screen Door health-check experience project. Gaining back the trust of shoppers and passengers after COVID-19 left such an immense impression won’t be easy. But by leveraging the right hybrid approach by mixing spatial, physical and digital solutions, companies can break down operational silos to elevate more holistic experiences and manage them more easily.

Another development as businesses regrow and start creating new business models and experiences: The rise of partnerships. Companies large and small are networking to offer holistic offerings at a very local level. For example, some organizations have been delivering directly to customers through owned- or third-party eCommerce, developing local networks to complement a packaged offering, using social or streaming platforms to expand the reach of events or memberships, leveraging smaller secondary sales points or selling through third-party generalists, and working with packaging suppliers that employ new, safer methods. So far, this has been working well, especially for retail and restaurant businesses that have lighter models than manufacturing or consumer goods companies. One thing to keep in mind is diversifying the types of partnerships that are being put in place in the midst of regrowth.

At EPAM Continuum, we have designs on bringing joy back into experiences. We take the fear out of uncertainty by venturing out to explore what lies ahead and chart a path forward. We research thoroughly and prototype rigorously—looking from many different angles and through different lenses—to ensure that things work for people before bringing them out into the world. Then we design and implement these systems, spaces, services, products to make it all real.

It doesn’t matter where an organization is on path from relaunch to recovery to regrowth, now’s the time for us all to rethink our strategy and adapt to meet whatever the future throws our way next.  


Our eBook covers approaches you can take and strategy examples to follow as you recover and regrow your business.

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