Elaine: Culture plays such an important part in the overall experience. Designers can provide all of the parts required for a great workplace, but without the right company culture to enable employees to use the space to its fullest, the potential of the design will be lost. Managers need to lead from the top down, showing employees how to work in the modern office, how to engage with the different areas, and showing their employees that they trust them to do their job no matter where they are. Therefore managers should be taken on the design journey to fully understand the space.
The early engagement, workplace strategy and change management portion of the process is so important, allowing the leaders to understand and buy into the design. It is not enough to just design a project blindly. If you want a successful project, you need to be willing to spend the time, to allow the designer to fully understand the client and the culture that they are after, and to fully engage the employees in the design process. I would argue that the culture is the most important part of ensuring a successful and great office experience.
What would you say are the key elements required to create this experience?
Natasha: In terms of the experience, I think there are two key elements – you have both the staff experience and the visitor experience, and being able to tailor those to represent the brand throughout the journey and ‘experience’ within the space is really important. In creating the experience, I think leadership has to lead by example. There has to be an element of trust.
Nic: Creating a new experience is about people. However sexy your reception space is, if somebody gets an amazing welcome, it’s going to be more powerful than the design itself – and I’m a designer so maybe shouldn’t be saying that. When you talk about people, you’re talking about emotions – about engagement, community, help, welcome, comfort…these should be the drivers when creating a workplace.