Meet The Winners: SLAM Collaborative – Mind The Gap

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Chair of the Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

Meet the SLAM Collaborative team: winners in the New to World Solutions, Flex-Work, Common Shared Amenities categories.

Monika Avery: Principal | Interior Designer

James Puckhaber: Corporate Practice Leader – Atlanta

Cynthia Martinez: Senior Associate  |  Corporate Practice Leader – Denver

Alexis Dennis-Huether: Associate Principal

Meghan Mendes: Interior Designer

Ryan Han: Architectural Designer

Check out their submission:

This is a theoretical project envisioned by the team.

What if during your commute you could take a zoom meeting, network and have breakfast? What if it also provided little conveniences that save you time, such as the ability to buy flowers or a bottle of wine for the dinner you are heading to? We want to create a moveable workplace that takes the daily commute and elevates it to become an extension of the workday. Flexibility has been globally accepted as the future of work, but as companies start to navigate the hybrid work model, it is the commute that has become the barrier. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average one-way commute increased to a new high of 27.6 minutes, with 9.8% of commuters reporting one-way commutes of at least one hour.

This percentage climbs for larger cities: 22.7% of New York commuters and 14.4% of Los Angeles commuters reported a 1+ hour commute each way. With many people relocating from major cities to suburban and rural areas during the pandemic, we anticipate this percentage increasing even more. According to Brown University, for each minute you spend commuting, the tradeoff is 0.0257 in exercise time, 0.037 in food preparation and 0.2205 in sleep. In addition to commuting being a drain on an employee’s quality of life, commuting has tremendously affected our planet, with transportation being the single, largest source of carbon causing climate change.

The American transportation system is one of the most inefficient in the world, with many commuters driving gas-guzzling, single-occupant vehicles. We believe we are on the precipice of a metamorphosis. The ability to shift commuting from a static part of the day to an active part of the day could be the game-changer in supporting new work models. If commuting could be productive and environmentally friendly, the impacts on the workforce, planet and economy could be tremendous! By creating different working environments that support various work styles and typical office activities, workers can choose from the Productivity, Events, Nourishment or Amenities cars, whether to reserve a private booth for a virtual meeting, grab a meal in a communal dining area, purchase groceries for that night’s dinner, take some time for contemplation, or find a comfortable and quiet place to focus on work. The ability to start your workday on the train rather than when you step foot in the office can solve problems for the individual employee as well as employers.

Employees gain back valuable time in their day and explore the possibility to live further from the office, giving them more freedom of choice. Employers could solve their labor shortage issues by increasing the area of which to recruit and gaining access to a larger talent pool. Companies could also incorporate a train pass as part of their benefits package to encourage more workers back to the office, while still allowing them to stick to new life choices of where they live, while being able to maintain a work-life balance, creating a happier and more productive workforce.

Click on an image to see it full size.

To celebrate their win, we connected with the team to see how their idea evolved since it was submitted.

“When our team first submitted our Work From Train concept we were inspired by the desire we were seeing in the moment by both employers and employees to continue to allow flexibility and a hybrid work model as business started their return to the office, as well as discussions that were happening around improvements in air quality in some cities due to the lack of cars on the road during the lockdown period of the pandemic.  In the time that has passed since our project was submitted, we are seeing key indicators that the Work From Train platform we developed could be the missing link to making these types of programs successful in the long run.

Key Indicators:

  • 100% of our clients are now providing some type of hybrid program for employees.
  • One of the factors in the labor shortage is that people are moving further away from the larger celebrity cities in order to be able to afford a home.
  • Congress’s Infrastructure Bill has gained support and is likely to pass this September. This bill is likely to dedicate funds towards expanding the commuter rail in the US.”

Comments from the Jury:

I’m on board. I’ll jump on this train!

I love the productivity car in particular and how all the different components made it feel like there was a collective buzz even though you were new or maybe not with others. It feels like a wework on wheels.

This progressive proposal really pushes us to think differently around what the commuting time, should enable us to do, around how we optimize our time during our commutes and to think about creative design and programming solutions that help mitigate that major stressor, (which is commuting) and use it as a time that can feel productive and support our physical and mental health.

It’s interesting to think about how do we get people back into the idea of being effective during their commute. And I think this submission starts to sort of push on that, which is something that I very much appreciate.

🏆 Did this submission earn your vote? Vote for the People’s Choice award here! 🏆

Voting ends September 24th – one vote per person. 

A special thank you to our sponsors: 


Thank you to our 2021 Market Partners: Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) • Allwork.Space • IFMA Foundation • ACT • IIDA

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