Spaces that work
In Business Spotlight 1/2017, we speak to design experts about how the physical aspects of office space have an effect on workers’ health, their emotions and their productivity.
Paul Dare, deputy design director at the British office design firm Oktra, talked to Julian Earwaker about how poor design makes workers unhappy and less effective. You can read the interview here. The complete article is available as a print or digital version in Business Spotlight 1/2017.
"Bad design sends the wrong message to staff and causes confusion"
Business Spotlight: Which aspects of the physical workplace are most frequently neglected?
Paul Dare: Well-being in the workplace is the most frequently overlooked: this is the feel-good factor. There are two main aspects. First, enjoyment in your place of work. This is a combination of elements such as natural daylight, seeing a window, plants in the office or mood-enhancing colours. Second, creating an office that supports flexible working, collaboration and the sharing of information. We do this by giving employees a choice of breakout areas and amenities like showers, and fun aspects like pool and table tennis, which encourage interaction.
What happens when an organization gets its design badly wrong?
It sends the wrong message to staff, and causes confusion among individuals and the team. It can also have an effect on productivity and the sharing of information. We feel that flexibility and "the way an office works" should be at the very top of the list of considerations when designing a new office.
In a recent blog, you identified the three Ws for perfect office design: workflows, work styles and welfare. How far are these properly understood and used?
They are hardly ever understood. This is why we do an in-depth workplace consultancy to get to know our clients' business, their people and their aspirations, to design a workplace that encourages and inspires every member of their team to perform to their best potential.
Enclosed or open-plan: how does this decision define organizational culture?
In our office, our CEO wanted an open-plan workspace with private spaces so that our team could choose the right environment for the task. This had a massive impact on our culture, as it allowed us as a large business to keep our unique family culture.