- -How are your services different form a typical architect?
While we incorporate architectural services, we also also engage other disciplines in our work to ensure that the workplace will support your best performance. Our number one focus is the success of your business, and the solutions we provide are based on our thorough understanding of your goals, resources, needs and challenges.
Our work starts with asking from you a set of very specific questions, that are usually are not asked or explored in a typical design process which only involves architects and contractors. We also bring together the knowledge and resources to create the space that serves you best - in all possible ways, and we do this by supporting those values that make your organisation thrive.
Architects typically work the other way around - they come with a standard solution, and then adapt it so that it fits within the project’s constraints. The outcome is very often a compromised work environment that ticks some boxes but not others. And the business owner / manager wonders - was it really the best possible solution they could get for the huge amount of money they paid for the new space and the consultants?
- -Creating a high performance workplace sounds like a very complicated process. Is it?
Without a clear framework for designing a high-performance workplace, the process can certainly turn out to be rather confusing and overwhelming. Without clear direction and guidelines, it’s easy to get lost in the pool of information available about this topic (e.g. from consultants, focus groups, and various media), not knowing what is reliable and relevant for the project.
However, our simply structured design framework makes the design process transparent and easy to follow. At the same time, it drives the process towards achieving the best possible outcomes, since it ensures that every single initiative effectively supports the people and the objectives of the business.
- -People are so complicated. How is it possible to predict what will make them more productive?
When creating an effective workplace, there is no need to make wild guesses about how people would respond to different design options or workplace strategies. Research studies and case studies can give us reliable answers for many questions about design. For example, we know that people can focus and work better in a well-lit, comfortable room with clean air and good acoustics, than in a dim, noisy, hot and stuffy place.
When research does not provide clear direction, we can very often get the right answers when we ask the right people. These could be your clients, partners and team; since they see your business form a different perspective than you do. Listening to people (and giving them what they ask for) can create miracles.
A high performance workplace is also flexible and adaptable. This allows people to change their environment and work out for themselves how to organise and use their workplace, even after the design is ‘officially complete’. In other words, in today’s fast changing world, a great design is never really complete and final.
- -Your approach to design seems so systematic; can we still use our creativity and intuition?
Absolutely. The purpose of this design framework is not to limit your choices, but to create a link between possible design options and people / business outcomes. It enables you to make better decisions with confidence, and it actually makes the process more fun, engaging, and also more creative.
It’s not the objective of the design process to find one, absolute, superior answer to each question. It is about setting the right intentions, asking the right questions, and understanding what the consequences of your decisions are.
- -How can a workplace support fun and play, and still be professional?
The definition of the word ‘professional’ is changing a lot these days. Being professional means consistently providing a high quality service and customer experience, as opposed to showing a clean-cut image. If play can support this objective, then it can certainly make your business more professional.
An environment that encourages and supports fun and play needs to have a set of attributes, e.g.: being flexible / adaptable, promoting equity, making people feel safe, and incorporating different forms of media that allow people to express themselves and capture ideas. None of these attributes require the space to look messy or juvenile, let alone unprofessional.
Just as play has its place in the process of creating value and providing services, creating space for ‘serious’ focused work is equally important. So the workplace will become truly professional when it will allow people to find balance between different work modes, and chose the activities that best support them to deliver outstanding results.
- -How can we create a workplace that pleases everyone?
Trying to please everyone can be hard work. But do you really need to keep everyone happy? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep only those people happy who are attracted to the business’s purpose, culture, and core values?
In our consultancy we focus on creating a workplace which is aligned with the organisation’s values and culture, so that it sends the right message and attracts the right people. This ensures that everyone in the organisation is on the same page, and in such an environment keeping people happy and maintaining a thriving culture is actually very easy.
- -Who is making the ultimate decisions during the design process?
- All decisions about the design are made or approved by our clients. However, we are here to help our clients make informed decisions, and to make this process easy for them. Unlike in a typical design process where the business owner is at the periphery of the design team and often excluded from important discussions, in our projects they will be actively involved in the process without much work being imposed on them.
- -How long does it take to go though the design process? What if we need to make decisions very quickly?
We use many research and design strategies that are well suited to projects where decisions need to be made fast. Some of our strategies have actually been developed to help quick but accurate decision making.
Nevertheless, we should also remember the big picture, and keep things in perspective: How long did it take to acquire the funds for the project? How long will the business use the workplace? What will be the business expenses (maintenance, wages, etc.) throughout this time? And how much impact will the design have on the long term success of the business?
- -Most of the things in our workplace cannot be changed; we have too many limitations. Can you still help?
- Every project has constraints, but also opportunities. And we can always enhance the quality of a workspace by making the most out of these opportunities. We do not need to have unlimited design opportunities in order to create high performance work environments. If we make the right choices where we have choices, no matter how small the decision seems, the results can be substantial. Several highly successful projects are for example old, refurbished buildings with several design constraints (e.g. without the possibility to build or change any walls).
- -We already have a breakout space with a fish tank and bean bags, a ping-pong table, and a centralised utility room. Aren’t these sufficient?
These initiatives can be useful in many workplaces. However, creating a thriving environment is more than just going through a checklist, and ticking off as many points as possible. What works for one organisation may not work for another.
The key of creating a thriving workplace is to get clear about the objectives of the business and the workplace, and to keep these in focus when making design decisions.
Having a clear and consistent workspace design strategy requires setting the right foundations: setting the ‘right’ vision, asking the ‘right’ questions, and talking to the ‘right’ people. The result is a workplace that is fully in line with the business’s vision, brand, and culture.