(Re)Designing the Workplace, Strategically

imageAs stated by Gina Berndt, Principal at Perkins + Will, in an IIDA Perspective issue, “people and an organization’s culture trump the physical environment. The environment can reinforce culture, but it can’t create it.” This idea lies at the root of effective workplace strategy, which must “encompass an organization’s goals and values.”

Work Design Magazine recently published an article outlining the elements of strategic design. The first point of strategic design requires designers to evaluate the “corporate vision and values” of a company to determine how they can be manifested in the office environment. When the environment is designed to reinforce these ideas, the physical space has the potential to maximize performance and boost “employee engagement, loyalty, and innovation.”

To develop an effective workplace strategy, designers must gather cultural information, business objectives and note challenges the company faces “through observation, focus groups, surveys, and interviews.” This information will allow designers to “address the physical space and technology issues needed to achieve the desired employee behaviors… and greater business results.”

Once the strategy is determined, it must be reinforced among the employees who are “the key” of every organization. By sharing the company’s mission and strategy, employee engagement can be boosted and cultivated through an effective, well-designed workplace. This, In turn, “foster[s] a culture that makes it easier to attract and retain an engaged workforce.”

Asking the “right” questions will lead designers to helpful answers for crafting a “people-centered and strategic approach” to workplace design. As outlined by Work Design Magazine, these include:

- What are the organization’s goals and values?

- What can companies do to energize and engage the workforce?

- How can the workplace impact productivity?

- How can design innovations help improve quality of life and work?

- What does success look like?

Please check back next week for some common design challenges and their strategic workplace solutions, which can help boost employee happiness and output, thereby increasing business results.