If you knew that a decision you were making for your business could constrain its future potential, would you do it?

Surprisingly business leaders make these decisions unknowingly every day.  This decision impacts your two most expensive business assets; property & people.

When business leaders define their corporate strategy, often the last people that they would think to consult about its execution would be their workplace designers, and fair call.  Traditionally the role of the designer has been to put this many little boxes into the big box, however there is a new style of design philosophy evolving, one that takes a far more holistic approach to creating a workplace that embodies your organizations strategic plan and infuses every element of the physical environment with it.  Creating a space that influences and guides the specific behaviors needed to execute that vision.

A strategic design approach looks at all the elements of what makes your business unique; departments, people, communication process, work type and style, rituals, policies & procedures, cultural nuances, the story of your business evolution and your vision for the future.

Many people feel that an office is an office is an office.  But this office, is your unique opportunity to tell everyone; your staff, your peers, your clients, your suppliers, your competitors, EVERYONE, who you are, what you are about and what you stand for. In my 20years experience, I can honestly say that no two workplace environments have ever been the same, just as no two companies can be the same.  Sure, they have elements of repetition, however the way in which these elements come together; their ratios, sizes and styles, are each distinctly different to one another, creating a unique dynamic.

Many organizational challenges can be addressed by a change of environment and the provision of physical cues as to how people are to behave in that environment.  There are many underlying factors that begin to bleed into an organsiations culture over time; people, personalities, changes in the workstyle, the influence of technology, the type and location of clients and the demands required to service these clients.  All of these elements begin to sculpt a culture that may be negatively impacting on the hopes and dreams of where the organization would rather it be.

The design of a workspace is a holistic, 3-dimensional jig saw puzzle that is influenced by the factors of culture, purpose and the vision of an organization.  Understanding these surrounding factors enables a complete picture to be developed  that is specific and unique to an organization so that it can provide the spaces necessary to enable the behaviors needed to support it and to see it flourish.

As technology only further influences the world we live in it has transformed the way in which we work.  No longer do we need to physically attend our place of work to be working. Remote working is rapidly becoming the norm; from home, from a clients office, on the bus/train, in a café.  In turn our reasons for actually going “to work” have changed.  We go to work to connect with our colleagues on a social level, to connect with our organization and the culture, to immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of what we are all about and remind ourselves of why we do what we do.  We look to connect, to share information, idea’s & story’s, to find support and answers to questions we may struggle with.

Just as our need to physically connect with our workplace has changed, so to must the design of that workplace. No longer can it be purely a kit of parts consisting of meeting rooms, desks and offices.  We need so much more to facilitate the meaningful social interactions that we seek out when there.  We need spaces to collaborate, to connect and to communicate, however we also need spaces to relax, recharge and to work.  Our needs have changed and so to must our work environments.

However, our work environments are not merely an attempt to create a furniture showroom, they must be responsive and specific to the particular style of collaboration, communication and connection that is required of your organization.  They must adequately balance the need for social vs individual work settings, noisy vs quite spaces, and this ratio is determined by a number of factors which all tie back to “what is the behavior you want to see?”.

A well-considered and planned work space can create a culture that is responsive to the strategic vision of your company and drive direct and tangible outcomes in how your people engage with your business.

 

Blog Contributed by Melissa Marsden

“Chief creative and our fearless leader she’s the brains behind this operation”