Understanding is the root of creativity
What makes a good workspace?
Ergonomics and business efficiency are obviously central to the workspace planning discussion but, depending on the perspective, other aspects such as design, cost and flexibility can be highly influential. So, how does one go about finding the right balance?
Here at Woodalls, our approach is very pragmatic. The most important thing in the first instance is to clarify the business need and understand how the space is to be used.
If the task is to remodel existing space or move a business into an empty space then we need to look at what is happening now. Workshops are good for this because they provide information about how space is perceived and used, how different functional units relate to each other, and how space fits within the business plan. To be truly effective, we generally recommend having separate workshops for business leaders, project teams and for a cross section of users.
We also apply technology to great analytical effect. Today’s new generation of automated under-desk sensors allow us to gain remarkable insights as to how desks and workstations are used for different types of activities, on different days and at different times during the day.
All of the information gathered not only illustrates the practical aspects of space utilisation, but also helps define the workspace in terms of corporate culture and brand values. Ultimately, it enables some very clear decisions to be made about the number of desks or workstations needed, their grouping and the expected flow of people in, around and between the various business functions.
Not long ago we went through this very process with a City firm. Their office layout had 20 meeting rooms with seating for at least 12 people to allow for flexible working and client briefings. After analysis, we suggested remodelling these rooms to create two 12 people rooms and 18 four people rooms. This immediately released around 40% of the meeting space for other purposes and saved the firm from having to rush into leasing extra capacity.
Perhaps pragmatism isn’t the glamorous side of transforming a workspace, but it certainly pays its way. Our analytical discovery programme uncovers tangible evidence to show what is happening now, which in turn inspires the design and specifying stages that come later.
For us, understanding is where creativity begins.