In order to maximize the value of the office as you make your return, WDM Founder Bob Fox shares six important considerations. Check out six more considerations here.
2022 brings a new beginning. It’s a time to step back, reflect, look forward, and set new goals. The past two years have been strange, and we have had to completely reorient all aspects of our lives including work.
We work differently now. Not as much time is spent in the office, we work in various places, we depend more on technology. There are new priorities in our lives, our work and our environments and it’s important to recognize and respect them.
The data indicates that most of us would like to get back to the office as we value interaction with our peers and the collective tools and resources that we can share. We have an opportunity to reassess the tools and spaces that better support our work to perform more effectively and efficiently.
In order to maximize the value of the office, there are a few simple concepts that must be accounted for. Most are not expensive and simply require some careful thought. Here are six important considerations:
1. Inspire or Die
When someone first walks into your space, you have their complete and undivided attention. Their senses are full on, absorbing everything about the space, including light, graphics, art, technology, and more. It’s important to use that initial introduction to create a unique experience, tell a story, promote your brand, and to reinforce values, mission, and culture.
Emerging from the pandemic, it’s critical to communicate your values that in return, could attract, align, and inspire the best talent to join and help achieve organizational goals. It also should remind and inspire those who use the space more frequently why they are there.
Office space is part of an eco-system of tools available to advance your organizations mission, and it should be clear why people are there, the benefits of the environment and what your space do better than any other place they might choose to work.
If you are spending the time and money to build something, then build something unique that drives greater value for your organization.
We have historically thought of space as just a place to house our people, driven by cost and efficiency. If you are spending the time and money to build something, then build something unique that drives greater value for your organization.
2. Build The Foundation
Everything that we do today requires some type of support as much of our work has become highly specialized and nuanced requiring specific training and tools. The workplace is one of those tools and there are considerable advantages to collectively centralizing that support. It enables sharing of common experiences, communication of objectives and ideas. It supports improved equipment through distributing the cost over a larger number of people and teams.
Having the best IT equipment and network, AV equipment, food, healthy amenities, specialized spaces are better at scale than for individuals. Shared communal areas are better and make sense economically as is any back of house space for businesses.
Given the unique business that you are in, your workspace must provide the highest level of widespread support. No one has that kind of equipment, support, or data collected sitting in their home. These kinds of tools are critical to meet the level of performance, quality, and experience that drive success.
3. Beauty is Power
We are all moved when we see something beautiful. We remember the most beautiful places that we have experienced, and our workspaces should be no different.
Beautiful design requires the thoughtful orchestration of our environments combined with engineering and technology necessary to support the space. The complexity of our workspaces require the careful coordination and planning of the elements required. Spaces lacking careful consideration at the onset will be confusing, haphazard, and meaningless.
Assembling our environments requires a structured problem-solving approach of testing and iterating ideas to improve an environment that people experience. It’s an ordered process of layering all of the required elements in a clear, consistent, and coordinated manor.
Design is an opportunity to create something special and unique…
The environment should be a fully integrated and pleasant experience with an intuitive logic to how people experience and use the space. Design takes into consideration the operation, organization, coordination order, materials, colors, light, finishes, and much more and weaves together a complete environment dedicated to a specific purpose or use.
Design is an opportunity to create something special and unique, to make a statement that is yours and yours alone. It’s a way to make the ordinary something extraordinary.
4. Make an Impression
We all react to our experience, especially when entering a pristine environment. One of the easiest analogies is when you enter a nice spa. The sound, the feel, the colors, the light, all combine to provide a relaxing mood and convey a sense of calm. Think about your own experiences when you first walked into someone’s space and what you felt. What were you expecting? What did you actually experience? What was your impression?
All the same considerations apply to our workplace in diverse ways. The workplace includes the service, technology, wellbeing, support, food and more that all combine to create a place that either impresses us in a positive way or we react negatively. When done properly all the experience should support and reinforce an overarching theme or purpose about the organization.
There has been a lot of talk about experience and the experiential workplace and the new work environment. The essence of that experience is the positive or negative impression that you make on someone and how they feel. That impression will last a long time and you get one shot at making a good one.
The space impacts most of our senses in one form or another. Great architecture is inspiring and something that we remember. It impacts how we feel and our desire to be in the space.
As we begin to return to the office, among all of the choices that we have, this experience will be what keeps us coming back and keeps us positive about our work and our work environment.
5. Celebrate Good Times
We are attracted to places that are inspired and get excited when we experience them with our peers. It provides a mutual understanding and meaning to our lives and the work that we do. The idea of architecture celebrating something is not new. It builds on the experience offered and dives deeper into an inspirational message that is being communicated.
We have already established that your space communicates. You want to use it to attract and motivate those using the space. One of the best ways to do this is to celebrate the organizations success and promote something that you want to mark. This serves to define goals and objectives and promote desired behavior.
The possibilities can range from celebrating the diversity of the team to the promoting the efforts that drive the vision of the leaders. When people come into the space on a regular basis, it’s a subtle reminder of why they are there.
6. It’s For the People
The common denominator for all our workspaces is people. Our organizations can’t exist without the best talent. While this may seem obvious, COVID raised the stakes. This is the primary issue that has risen to the top of the consideration list in all discussion about returning to the office.
There were many resignations this past year and were direct results of conflict that occurs with people’s work and lives. If their work does not provide meaning, inspire, or motivate them, then they will find something else.
If the modern-day corporation is going to thrive, is has to nurture its talent and accommodate the health of all people and the nuance of their lives.
If the modern-day corporation is going to thrive, is has to nurture its talent and accommodate the health of all people and the nuance of their lives. It has to provide purpose and meaning in the lives of individuals and the organization now has to attract, develop, train, nurture, and maintain the talent and provide the environment and opportunities for them to grow.
This requires a unique way of thinking about management and employees, and it requires a variety of things that we have not had to deal with at this scale in the past. It includes all aspects of an organization that must be aligned from the vision and leadership, to HR to the CFO and all stakeholders. If an organization is focused solely on the bottom line, it will not survive. There is now an entire ecosystem and a community of individuals where the performance of the organization is related to the quality of life of all its stakeholders.
Organizations can only thrive if they have people who have the health, mental faculties, and support that they need to accommodate the purpose in their lives and perform.
These are great steps to work towards creating an ideal office space.
I thought it was interesting when you mentioned that people like to go to an office because they value interaction with others. If you are trying to start a company, and want to have a public space, it could be a good idea to look at some kind of business center. As far as I know, business centers have spaces that can be rented that can accommodate a lot of employees.
I agree that aesthetics should also be considered when setting up an office space. I want to look for office space rentals soon because I’m thinking about starting a small business later this year. I can imagine that I will need an office for about five people as a start.