Returning to the Office Post-COVID

An AIA Washington Council Webinar

Wednesday, July 7 | Noon – 1:00 pm

As Washington begins to lift restrictions in place due to COVID-19 and firms begin to look at returning to pre-pandemic capacity, employers have questions about how to reopen based on the legal environment we are in now and the possible psychological impacts employees are experiencing.

Our panelists will discuss how firms can reopen effectively, with examples from both Seattle and Spokane. They will also discuss maintaining employee mental wellness and the importance of communication.

Key topics will include:

  • Legal factors to consider when planning to re-open offices.
  • Best practices for communicating effectively and preserving/evolving firm culture in a post COVID environment.
  • Ways to navigate the psychological challenges employees may be dealing with as a result of the pandemic and isolation when faced with returning to the office.


Stephen Black, AIA
Senior Project Manager, fi architecture
AIA SW Washington

Stephen is a Senior Project Manager | Associate with fi architecture in Gig Harbor, WA. He has over 21 years of experience working on a wide array of project types but focusing mainly on education projects. Stephen earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Washington State University and is a licensed architect in Washington. He enjoys volunteering time with the AIA and coaching youth sports. Stephen currently serves on the AIA Washington Council Board and is a past president of AIA Washington Council.


Brendan Connolly, AIA
Partner, Mithun
AIA Seattle

Brendan is an architect and design partner at Mithun, and he has focused his career on creating innovative environments for learning, living and working for educational and institutional clients. In his 25 years of professional practice and two decades at Mithun, Brendan has worked nationally on Living Building, Passive House and other innovative campus environments that have helped transform institutions and curriculum.  His work to further innovation and collaboration in the design and construction industry extends to his community commitments, where Brendan serves as a juror and lecturer at the University of Washington and as a member of the university’s Professional Advisory Council, the Mountaineers Advisory Council, as a partner board member for the UW Center for Integrated Design, the board of directors for Leadership + Design and as president of the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

Kirsten Daniels
Attorney, Cairncross & Hempelmann

In her employment counseling and litigation practice, Kirsten works hand-in-hand with businesses to help them navigate the often-turbulent waters of employment law compliance. Kirsten advises employers on all manner of federal, state, and local employment laws across jurisdictions, including paid sick leave, other forms of protected leave (such as FMLA and ADA leave), minimum wage and wage/hour compliance, worker classification, performance management and termination, WARN Act compliance, and myriad discrimination and harassment laws.

Kirsten is regularly invited to speak locally and nationally on topics related to employment law and human resources, including FLSA, ADA and FMLA issues and compliance.  She teaches seminars addressing issues like workplace policies, best practices for new supervisors and managers, as well as how to cultivate a respectful workplace.

Greg Francis, Assoc. AIA
Director of Operations, ALSC Architects
AIA Spokane

Greg Joined ALSC Architects in 2012 and became Director of Operations in 2018, overseeing facilities management, technology, and human resources strategy. Greg took on the role of COVID Coordinator and is responsible for developing and implementing ALSC’s COVID policies while ensuring they comply with federal, state and local laws and recommendations. ALSC Architects has forty employees and is based in Spokane.

Monica Phillips
President of Spark Plug Labs and Certified Coach

Monica has been working with professional services for 22 years and brings programs on wellness and elimination of bias to the forefront of organizations. Her mission is to create space where everyone is seen, heard, and valued, where everyone belongs, and where everyone is paid and promoted equitably. With that in mind, she founded the Legal Academy on Equity and Inclusion. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach through the Coaches Training Institute, a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, a Certified Positive Intelligence Coach, and an RYT-500 hour certified yoga teacher. She integrates mindfulness and yoga philosophy throughout all of her work. She coaches high potential leaders and teams on leadership, team culture, business development, innovation, and heart-based leadership across law firms and with Fortune 500 teams.