Workplace Consultancy

Improving Business Performance by Design…

Zurich Insurance, City of London

People, as we know, are individuals and individuals have very differing physical, psychological and emotional attributes and needs. Each individual’s attributes and needs vary throughout each day, week, month and year. Yes, there are identified commonalities between and generalisations about groups of individuals that have been and will continue to be studied and written about by many but, ultimately, we are all individuals.

The success of any organisation depends on the ability of each and every individual to work effectively to the best of their ability for as much of their time as possible. Organisations function most effectively when their people are motivated and supported physically, psychologically and emotionally. It is commonly accepted that the ability of people to perform their work effectively and to enjoy social interaction in their provided or chosen environment is directly influenced by the design of that environment (plus the business systems, processes and support mechanisms provided by their employers).

If as designers we forget this then we’re in danger of creating problems that hinder effective working rather than solutions that support and enable it.

Workplaces are designed for people

Each organisation is different too and, very often, there are significant variations in business and cultural ideologies within a single organisation. Therefore, engagement and discussion with people at all levels of an organisation are key to achieving the knowledge and insight necessary to set new workplace projects on the right course. Much the same as a tailored suit not fitting different individuals, there is no single workplace model to fit all organisations. As designers we need to measure requirements and create outputs according to the needs.

With regard to Covid-19 impact on future workplace strategies and design, the same statement is true; no single solution will fit all. However, the provision of variety and choice are, we believe from our experience, key ingredients in any recipe for a successful workplace. The question is, how much of each ingredient is required and that can only be answered through dialogue and collaborative engagement with our clients.

Collaborating regularly with our clients between our network of studios in London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Moscow, Istanbul and Dubai we bring extensive, international knowledge and insight into what makes workplaces effective. We offer experienced support and guidance in the creative design and delivery of effective workplaces, including the definition of New Workplace Strategies (how and where people work) and Strategic Occupancy Planning (how much space is required, where and of what type).

Our services include workplace audits, time-utilisation studies and analysis, pilot studies to test alternative workplace proposals, cost benefit analysis and base-building due diligence studies.

Symantec, Reading
JTI, Moscow

Six key factors influencing workplace design are Technology, The Cultural Shift, Lifestyle Choices, Well-being, Sustainability, and Effectiveness

Technology

We are both fascinated and motivated by the exponential speed of change in workplace design that continues to evolve as an outcome of technological advancement and our reliance on it.

Other than the strength and the very nature of human resilience, it is technology in particular that has enabled commerce and industry to survive or even, in some cases to thrive during the current pandemic. It is technology that has enabled the workforce to be untethered from their workstations and from buildings to work anywhere, anytime and almost anyhow they choose and with whom. This fact is here to stay.

However, this evolution brings both opportunities and challenges in the design of workplaces that need to be at once contemporary and ‘future-proof’. In order to achieve the right blend of workplace offerings articulated in a tailored vocabulary, it is important to engage with business at all levels to understand the intricacies of a dynamic profile, now and in the future, so that appropriate IT solutions can be  tailored to derive maximum, long-term benefit from any corporate investment in Technology.

The Cultural Shift

An immense cultural shift in workplace design and space use has occurred and continues to occur as a result, in large part, of technological advancement.

The ability for individuals and groups of individuals to share space, time, knowledge and experiences ‘virtually’ and from almost any location(s) has in turn transformed our ability to choose how, where and when we do things, including work, and for how long. This was the case even before the incidence of Covid-19.

As a result, people’s lives have been transformed such that variety and choice are the expected norm in an agile and transient world that is often focussed more on achieving a balanced Lifestyle than simply on the function of work itself.

Lifestyle choices

The consideration of often conflicting lifestyle choices is a complex and continually shifting dynamic, influenced heavily by the introduction of variety and choice in the workplace driven by Technology.

Demographic profiles and the agile nature of the work have changed dramatically over recent years and will continue to do so, especially post-pandemic. Constant mutation and the speed of change in life can be disorientating, as evidenced by the pandemic and so the creation of a ‘place’ or ‘places’ that are high-performing, comfortable and functionally supportive of staff is an important and necessary requirement of any modern organisation in which the boundaries between work, life and social interaction have become increasingly blurred.

Well-being & sustainability

Being motivated, supported, uplifted and feeling part of a family or community are all basic human needs but so often these needs are not met by the structure of working models or by workplace designs.

The importance of individual and collective well-being is now high on the agenda of most corporate organisations, and rightly so, but the close alignment between well-being and sustainability requires careful consideration in the development of designs to which these ideals are integral and not supplementary.

This goes to the heart of our belief that design is about people and more importantly about the life of our planet for future generations to enjoy.

Effectiveness

Effectiveness equals value. The success of any company is directly influenced by the quality and effectiveness of its workplace but effectiveness is of course influenced by many factors. Variety and choice are fundamental ingredients of any effective workplace, just as they are in any balanced life-style but structure is also essential. People need structure but also to be trusted and empowered to embrace technology as an enabler and a means by which to avoid a prescriptive approach to working patterns and methods.

Achieving the right balance increases staff motivation and where appropriate, interaction and collaboration to raise productivity levels and create functional value. Flexibility and adaptability are also essential ideological and physical ingredients for creating effective workplaces. Each requires a clear definition of meaning, engagement in discussion and design development to evolve suitably flexible and adaptable solutions based on functional need.

To truly add value, a workplace model needs a structure that consistently optimises the relationship between working methods and real estate.

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