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"We built an innovation centre, and no one uses it!"

In this one phrase we see the vulnerability of going with folk-logic or cliché in the design of a new office. If you build it, will they come? If it's trendy, is it worth it? If everyone else is doing it, do you jump on the bandwagon? Wrapped up in these questions are three risk factors: money, space, and people.
Money, because this stuff is expensive. You don't need that telepresence room? That's a half-million dollar saving.
Space, because every inch used for this, can't be used for that. What's the optimal desk size? Storage allocation? Which brings us to…
People: and the difference between what they think they need and actually need. So, what's worth a dollar, how will you know, and who gets to say?

We believe that these questions are best settled early, at a leadership level and with baseline research. 

Research comes in two forms. 

First, we take into findings from the fields of organisational and environmental psychology. These are a great start, and provide foundational principles, particularly around staff wellbeing, mindset, and interactions.

Next, we need to acknowledge that 'context is everything'. Actually, to do this, we undertake some primary research called an 'ethnographic study'. This means we engage directly with staff to understand the work they do and how they do it. We get curious, we do detective work, and for a decent slab of time, we literally stand in the corner and simply watch.

Here's the magic: the above process allows us to close the gap.

The gap with started with -  the difference between what people think they need, and what the data shows they really do need. When we reconvene a second leadership workshop, the data allows us to build a persuasive case for a strategic brief that resolves many of the dilemmas before they occur.

In this one key moment, by ratifying a set of design principles and priorities, we establish clarity that will save time and money all while establishing a more functional and effective new office. From this moment onward, there is an agreed framework for navigating the many decisions and trade-offs to come.

And here's the secret sauce of our design principles: not only are they contextual to your business strategy, your people, your priorities, they also transcend the limitations of mere physical design. 

You see, our operating model of the work environment includes not just physical space, but also information space, and organisational space, and we look for the chemistry between the three. 

That's the clincher, because it is a truism that 'physical design is necessary but not sufficient'. Many physical design features require a shift in behaviour, attitude, or the embrace of a new tech toolkit to really shine. Our ethnographic study teases out these implications and feeds into our recommendations.

And that is how we take the guesswork out of the cascade of high-stakes decisions that occur in the context of an office move or refit. If it's worth a dollar, it gets a dollar. A little bit of research goes a very long way.

Get in touch with our workplace strategy team to discuss your situation.


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There are many reasons that you may need a new workspace such as lease expiry, growth, change, rebrand or mergers. We are here to help as your one point of contact to de-mystify and simplify for the whole new office fitout journey.