As the workplace evolves rapidly due to modern technologies, change is one of the only constants in the office. In this design news aggregate, we explore one of the overarching trends that has emerged amidst this continuous change: designing with employees in mind, first & foremost.
Supporting the People
Organizations are increasingly looking to their employees for feedback and insights: Fast Company recommends that leaders survey employees “to find out what types of spaces work best for them” and notes that these surveys are an effective way to understand people’s needs. CMSWire echoes this perspective, sharing Steelcase research showing that “staff who had a say in their workplace experienced the highest levels of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.” Companies across sectors are taking note – including law firms that are “curating employee-centric experiences with a greater emphasis on culture and employee wellbeing.”
Below, we’ve compiled a few ideas for designing spaces to accommodate a diverse modern workforce:
1. Consider the 5-generation workforce.
Workplace Insight notes that employers must address the often competing needs of a five generation workforce. In a Q&A with HGA Architects' Associate Vice President Melissa Jancourt, Commercial Property Executive points out that organizations will soon be adapting to support a more tech-integrated, socially-aware and connected generation with the addition of Gen Z into the workplace.
Fast Company proposes tech-enabled communication and leveraging automation to create time for collaboration Read more on designing for a multi-generational workforce here and seamlessly integrating technology in the office here.
2. Dive in to data.
Work Design Magazine suggests “...to create workplaces that serve to improve employee satisfaction, productivity and retention, design strategists need to lean on facts.” Understanding and utilizing data in the workplace design process helps create evidence-based office spaces. In this case, Work Design Magazine specifically explores the impact of data on workplace environments from occupancy evaluations - but there’s more ways to approach research for the office.
Consider the Coalesse Montara650 Rocker, for example. On intuition, the Coalesse Design Group developed the rocking chair for the workplace. Now, research reveals the surprising benefits of rocking at work. In some of the first research of its kind, a small pilot study was sponsored by Coalesse and conducted in early 2017 in collaboration with the Steelcase WorkSpace Futures group to explore the specific and measurable benefits of wellbeing the act of rocking might bring to the workplace. Read about the research here.
3. Embrace agile spaces.
Part of prioritizing employees is giving people the freedom to arrange and rearrange spaces to suit the task at hand. In TechRound, Steelcase’s Chris Congdon explains the importance of flexibility and pliable settings: “The team needs to be able to control their environment. So much of our furnishings and our technology are static, they are in one place, and it’s very difficult for teams to move things around.”
Similarly, Allwork.Space reviews activity-based working – which empowers employees with freedom, choice and a flexible work environment that suits a range of activities and tasks throughout the day.
The Coalesse Free Stand is made for this type of versatile setting – it’s foldable, height-adjustable, lightweight, and easy to carry. The Sebastopol tables are similarly flexible – pull it closer for a solo work session, or push several together to create a generous centerpiece for groups.
4. Bring the outside in.
We’ve discussed biophilic design often on the blog before – the focus on biophilia and employee wellbeing is a significant aspect of an employee-centric design mindset. Fast Company delves deeply into biophilic design, highlighting several companies that have embraced biophilic techniques – including Google and Etsy – to boost employee morale, productivity and creativity.
Interior Design Magazine features The Amazon Spheres at the company’s Seattle campus – conjoined domes with tens of thousands of living plants and more natural elements. We explore both a tangible and representative approach to biophilic design on the blog here.
By making human needs the main focus of the workplace, today’s companies are creating more meaningful, engaging and fulfilling experience for the modern workforce. Does your workplace have an employee-centric design approach? Let us know @coalesse.