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true design genius is people centric aesthetics is secondary

True design genius is people centric, aesthetics is secondary

Interior design, office fit-out, open plan spaces… these are all commonly discussed topics in the office design industry. Our terminology is focused on what a space looks like; that is, the aesthetics of the workplace. Yet research statistics and case studies consistently show us that an office designed around people will benefit from better skill retention, growth and higher profits.

Evoke Projects explores the research and ideas behind people centric office design.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Of course, your staff’s opinion about the aesthetics of your office design is going to be important. But beauty is very subjective. Even assuming you produce a stunning office fit-out that everybody loves, it will not produce a good return on investment if workflows are not supported. And if the office design looks great, but the employee experience is poor, your highest skilled workers will look for their next career move outside the organisation. With 71% of CEOs identifying “human capital as a key source of competitive advantage”, you need the people!1

Best workplaces can cut staff turnover in half

The latest Australian HR Institute (AHRI) figures available (2018) show Australian staff turnover rates averaged 18%, while the preference is for 1-10% turnover.2 A study from the US looked at voluntary turnover rates in companies that made the list of Best Small and Medium Workplaces.3 Their turnover was less than half the national average. Imagine what could be achieved in your workplace if you ‘make the list’.

Office design can empower employees

Most of us are used to a top-down organisation structure. The office design usually reflects that with large private offices for the top echelon. New To HR writes about the neuroscience behind people centric offices and how “moving decision making closer to where the work is taking place” gives greater employee autonomy.4 If an employee feels “integral to the entire process… productivity and happiness rises.” Your new office fit-out can empower your employees by moving decision makers to sit amongst the team.

Well-being at work requires people centric office design

Companies are now prioritising health and wellness in the workplace. This means that the work environment needs to support the employee experience and their health and well-being, including both physical and mental health.

The WELL Building Standard provides a framework for office design to improve well-being through standards in Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community.

Engineering consultancy Cundall was the first company in Europe to achieve WELL certification. In the two years since it gained certification, there has been a 50% reduction in absenteeism and a 27% reduction in staff turnover at their London office.

Mirvac’s EY Centre in Sydney is another WELL success story, with BOSSA (Building Occupants Survey System Australia) results after the new office fit-out showing an overall increase in satisfaction in every WELL category.

If an office fit-out is a few years away, consider a minor office refurbishment (e.g. a breakout space with a pool table, mini office booths for private conversations) to add people centric well-being elements to your office design.

Modern office design is about trust, not control

A Siemens’ press release referred to an employee study by consulting firm PwC. It found that positive working space conditions, plus a healthy work-life balance, are more important than salary to 75% of employees.5

People centric office designs give staff flexible spaces where they are trusted with the decision about where to work. These will include social areas, collaborative spaces, focus rooms and a mix of furniture including traditional and height adjustable desks and portable seating. Modern office design is about trust, not control.

When buying office furniture for your new office fit-out, adaptable and modular furniture is your business’s best friend for future growth or change.

Can technology be good and bad?

Everybody has an opinion on technology and the role that it should play at work. Where it once improved productivity, now there are fears that smartphones and social media are distracting employees from their work. There is an increasing blurring between our work and home lives. If you expect staff to reply to emails out of hours, some give and take will show your commitment to people centricity. Publishing a fair policy will make sure rules are consistent and transparent to all.

When planning a new office fit-out, ensure data and electrical cabling can support future change. One thing is certain – technology never stands still!

Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 for office design, office refurbishments and office fit-outs with true design genius and no compromise on aesthetics.

  1. https://hbr.org/2017/06/hr-must-make-people-analytics-more-user-friendly
  2. https://www.thebusinessconversation.com.au/news/2018/08/10/report-finds-businesses-face-rising-staff-turnover-rates/1533853822
  3. https://www.greatplacetowork.com/resources/blog/a-people-centric-workplace-good-for-growth-and-profits
  4. https://newtohr.com/neuroscience-people-centric-workplace/
  5. https://press.siemens.com/global/en/pressrelease/new-smart-building-suite-enables-people-centric-workplace-experience

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