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What’s your most important business asset? It’s actually Who…

Undoubtedly, people are the most important asset of a business. In fact, it’s been said that the skill of employees accounts for 85% of a company’s assets.1 As you know, when a savvy investment is made in assets, the returns can be exponential. The work environment is the framework in which your team’s skills develop, and ‘people centric’ office design creates the optimum environment by supporting and inspiring the team. Evoke Projects looks at the rationale of putting architecture second to people when it comes to office fit-outs.

Resetting the balance between work and home

People centric planning means putting the person front and centre of the office design by taking a holistic approach to office fit-outs and refurbishments. Today, more than ever, with technology creating demands outside of the traditional 9-5 work day, people need to feel supported in their work environment otherwise they will burn out or lose motivation. Given that work encroaches on home life, the balance can be reset with more creature comforts and socialisation during office hours.

Aesthetics are obviously important, but architectural design should be secondary to the overall impact on employees’ everyday lives. After all, physical workflows and the effort and skills involved in those workflows involve people. The architecture should be there to support and inspire the team, not just to look good.

How to start a conversation about people centric office design

At Evoke Projects, we believe in Stephen Covey’s principle, ‘begin with the end in mind’. Visualise your team performing at their very best. Now look at their current interaction with their physical environment, their workflows and meeting habits. Think deeply about this. What do they need to work more efficiently? Could the current office fit-out be improved with more human elements, more homely touches, more choice about where they sit, or stand?

Choice is a big part of being human. People have to work, but if you can give them flexible spaces with informal breakout areas, collaborative space, quiet booths and traditional and stand-up desks, you bring choice back to their day. Never underestimate the importance of this to the human psyche.

Once you have some office design plans in mind, share your ideas with the team before starting the office fit-out. Test your theories, ask people for their honest opinion. This is where people centric design can really add value! Asking for people’s opinions may sound like a recipe for an expensive office fit-out, but if you work with the right office design company, you will be amazed at what can be achieved within your budget.

While we’re talking money, did you know it can cost as much as 50 to 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace them?2 Also, one study compared businesses ranking in the top and bottom 25% on employee engagement: there was an 18% drop in productivity and a 60% drop in quality (measured by defects in products) between the top and bottom performers.3 Ignoring people is expensive stuff!

WELL on the way to people centric office design

People centric office design can improve well-being, which is good for society, family life and the Australian economy. It’s possible to quantify and measure aspects of people centric office design through expert third party programs.

One example is the WELL Building StandardTM that aims to improve overall well-being through complying office design and workplace programs. According to WELL, around 18% of adults will experience a common mental health condition over a 12-month period, with depression and anxiety costing the global economy an estimated USD $1 trillion due to lost productivity. In Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) tells us that lost productivity, due largely to absenteeism, is costing Australian businesses around $11 billion every year. An investment in office design that results in people centric office fit-outs and refurbishments will benefit the economy and the businesses that participate in that economy through lower absenteeism.

The WELL Building Standard v2 has ten concepts with distinct health intents: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. All these concepts have elements that can contribute to people centric office designs. For more information on WELL, please visit https://www.wellcertified.com/

Evoke Projects are experts at designing people centric office fit-outs and office refurbishments that put your team at the heart of the design process for improved well-being and productivity. Please call our office design team on 1300 720 692.

1. https://www.educba.com/employee-most-valuable-intangible-assets/
2. http://www.confessionsoftheprofessions.com/keeping-employees-infographic/
3. http://www.insyncsurveys.com.au/resources/articles/employee-engagement/2012/10/impact-of-employee-engagement-on-productivity/

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