Are office interiors designed to tip the scales in your favour?
Powerhouse Group interior design team
Two buzzwords, one commercial office fit out, something has to give. Or does it? Let’s go back half a step. Throughout a number of industries and commercial entities you’ll hear people talk about having an engaged team, engaged staff, perhaps, on the right day, week or month, you might encounter a “fully engaged” team, individual or business unit. Since most of us are comfortable that being engaged in your work, the project or pursuit of outcomes is a good thing, most of us would similarly give the nod to an engaging workplace environment that kept teams engaged.
But what does it mean to be engaged and more importantly, what does a commercial office fit out need to feature, in order to engage people and keep them engaged?
Obviously, a lot of this has to do with syntax and yes, there is a bit of wordplay at work. If engaged means to be busy and focused, great, that sounds like a recipe for momentary, workplace nirvana. But as a business, as a workplace, how do we turn an office into a destination? Somewhere that people will eagerly return again and again to do their best work and feel good about it?
Energy keeps you engaged
Well as mentioned, “engaged” suggests “focused, in the moment, on task etc”. But without being energised, can one really be expected to give all they have or all that’s necessary again and again? The work itself, plus the conditions and benefits, would establish and secure a degree of engagement but the built environment can often fuel, aid and maintain ongoing engagement. In other words an energising environment.
And so, we arrive at a discussion on what sort of environment would be considered energising. When asked by clients for an engaging or energising environment, we start by leading a discussion that zeroes in on:
- The business – what is it that you do and how does your built office environment contribute to or enable your efforts?
- The purpose – why does your business need the space that it uses?
- Key roles – the people that will occupy the space, what do they work on, what works on/for them and why?
- Core functionality – what does this space have to achieve vs what would you like it to achieve?
Without this information, it would be pointless moving onto location (tenant advisory) and design discussions. Pointless.
Your new workplace can be both
Good team members will stay engaged with tasks that form part of their core duties – for as long as they can, but you know what else engages people at work? Frustration, overcoming obstacles that shouldn’t be there in the first place, work arounds, ad hoc temporary solutions, double-handling – all negative aspects of work that slow productivity by redirecting positive energy into non-core/profitable pursuits. Conversely, achieving goals, seeing progress, making breakthroughs actually create energy.
Many of us have witnessed, heard about or indeed been part of a built work environment that sucks the life from employees. The law of diminishing returns has become part of the culture and yet the people stay engaged with the task(s) at hand – because they have to – there’s not a lot of energy there. Debilitating.
As successful interior designers, keeping our eyes and designs firmly fixed on enabling better performance by solving problems through inspired, brand-fit design is imperative. Removing impediments to high performance through thoughtful design, actually allows teams to create and perpetuate energy. And like apathy, fatigue, burn-out and dissatisfaction with environments that simply don’t work, energy, positive energy is contagious. Again, the work that drives your commercial enterprise must drive the engagement but a fit out, wherein form and function meet and work together, can be both engaging and energising.
Generally speaking, briefs that feature basic functionality, location and, in some cases, colour palette requirements are often given to us and we feel, returning with commercial interior designsthat engage and energise, should also be a given. It shouldn’t have to be a choice between one or the other. You, your team and the wider business deserve both.