Every workplace is different. In some places people spend a lot of time at the office focusing on grand ideas, while in others people are always on the phone or dashing from one meeting to the next. Then there are the places where all these things are done, often at the same time.
The way to design workplaces has changed as have our ways of working
When we at Martela want to design an inspiring workplace, where people can work efficiently and in peace when they want to, listening to the employees is our most important tool. If I had been designing offices a decade ago, I would have listened to the company’s CEO or whoever made the decisions about their offices. Maybe the HR department would have told me how many people work in each department and I would have visited the office and chatted to some of the employees. That is all it took because offices were very similar to each other and following same pattern.
Today, work is much more varied and that is why workplace design is very different. We carry our digital tools with opportunity to work anywhere and at any time we want. We also work together much more than before. In the past, designers faced problems such as how many meeting rooms or workstations are needed, but the questions today are: can the same work be done somewhere else? Do all meetings really have to take place behind closed doors? Are the workstations always occupied or often vacant? Does everyone need their own room or even their own workstation? Most importantly, does the workplace support the company’s goals and business? Could we change our workspaces and our ways of working, too?
Focus on details and participation bring the best results
Designing workspaces involves countless amount of big questions that may not seem relevant to an individual employee. The very idea of a paperless office or a clean desk policy may make many suspicious, not to mention the idea of giving up your personal workstation. Changing a workplace is subject to the same laws as any change: the more employees that are involved in the planning, the easier it is to implement the change.
One of the best ways to get people involved is to organise a workshop. In a workshop the designer gains invaluable information while users can contribute to planning the goals of the change and get an introduction to the new opportunities for working. It is totally different to agree on, say, how space could be used more efficiently in a new office than it is to get an email telling you that everything has already been decided. Workshops are also a great method when a new workspace is being taken into use and new ways of working and rules are being agreed. In a well-functioning workplace, everyone knows what each space is for, where people should be left in peace and where you can chat freely.
People are interested in workplaces
Time after time at our workshops we have noticed how interested people are in their workplaces. When you design a new workplace and its rules together, the results are much better and the change is much easier to accept. It may seem difficult to find a time that suits everyone but getting everyone involved is always well worth it. The users are the best experts of their workplaces.
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