The design and outfitting of workspace is a major capital investment for any organisation and affects a number of business outcomes, including productivity, employee satisfaction, engagement, talent recruitment, and brand impact. Given the myriad of ways to design and plan a space, organisations need to approach workplace design in a strategic way. Imitating the latest fads start-ups are adopting often won’t get the results a company desires.
Hassan Shaikh, founder of Revolve, a specialist corporate and retail interior design strategy agency, says getting the formula right starts with an all-important audit – asking the right questions and, above all, listening to employees’ answers.
“Looking at growth projections are important but not necessarily enough to provide the clear insight required. Benchmarking the current space and understanding what has worked and not worked forms a large part of the design process to ensure delivery of productive interior-design space,” he says. Shaikh says a lot of this information is gleaned from the employees themselves through customised online surveys.
Working with an experienced interior designer will make the whole process of moving into new office space — or rationalising one’s existing one — a far more efficient and productive process. “We work closely with our clients to interpret their business’s brand, and translate that into their physical space, taking into account the characteristics of their employees, the culture, and that of their customers. Once the initial surveys are done we can start to compile a detailed report of the audit and present it to client with recommendations,” says Shaikh.
He says the best audits are outcomes-based audits which utilise both observation and the employee and management survey to get a well-rounded view of what is required and what shortfalls need to be addressed. “It is so important to critically analyse Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ), flow, matching brand perception to the office space, corporate culture to the workplace feel and even the movement away from traditional to more progressive interior spaces.”
Typically, we look at factors like who the employees currently are and where they will be in the next five years; who else uses the organisation’s space and why; what kind of perception is the organisation trying to create; to what extent does it value flexibility and choice; what workplace behaviours would they like to change and in the current workplace, what are the most satisfying attributes that sustain productivity.
Generally the detailed report confirms the gut feel from the organisation and solidifies the need for change although Shaikh says there are almost always some mind-blowing revelations that come out of the audit and these have the potential to cause a big enough stir that brings about massive change.
“The bottom line is that smart companies understand that workspaces are a business tool. An office environment reflects and reinforces a business’s core values through the placement of different teams and functions and design elements that reflect culture, brand, and values. Getting it right pays huge dividends,” concludes Shaikh.