Inspiring POSitivity in the Workplace

18 Nov 2022

#POSitivity #workplacedesign #purpose

The workplace environment has changed dramatically over the last decade. POS’s Managing Director, Rory Inglis, shares his views on the modern office and how to create environments that boost employee engagement and productivity.

What is the purpose of the office in today's world of work?

I believe the purpose of the office is to make people outstanding and to provide them with an environment where they feel inspired, energised, happy and safe.

At the start of our projects, we take the time to learn about our clients, to understand their purpose, their values and what is important for their people to perform and to enjoy what they do. We use these insights to inform our thinking and to design and create unique workplaces. What is always apparent is the critical role of the office in supporting social interactions.

With the increase in flexible working, people vary how and where they work. However, ultimately we are social creatures and thrive by being around other people. Therefore, creating well-designed environments that encourage interaction and collaboration significantly boosts people's overall wellbeing and happiness, increasing productivity and promoting a healthy culture. 

How has the office changed over the last few years?

A lot of businesses are re-evaluating their space. There was a tendency to assume that everyone needed their own desk to do all their work. However, what people seek to achieve and value requires a more thoughtful approach and range of resources.

The role of the office is undoubtedly evolving to provide a desirable place where people want to be. More businesses are recognising the value of having spaces where people can relax, have fun and connect with their colleagues. 

What impact does the workplace have on employee experience?

We believe inspired people do inspiring things. So, a fundamental aim for all our projects is to create inspiring spaces that will provide an exceptional employee experience. We can see people's energy and pride when they know they're coming in to work in a great space every day.

How the built environment is designed can have a significantly positive or negative impact on our health, wellbeing and productivity. Hence, we use a range of design principles to help us create healthy and productive workplaces.

We follow the international WELL Building Institute's rating system, which focuses solely on human health and wellness. The system is based on several core concepts - such as air quality, light, fitness and comfort - which significantly impact us as humans.

This is not just about designing spaces that look good; these spaces need to provide a comfortable and enriching experience.

As example, interruptions caused by noise can be a major productivity killer, with research suggesting it can take over 20 minutes to re-focus on a task after an interruption. Consider how that lost time might multiply across the day, the week and the year across multiple employees.

Open-plan working environments are very compelling; however, designing these spaces with acoustics in mind is essential to minimise distractions and improve productivity. Acoustic baffles, cascades and panels all play a role. Equally, well designed, acoustic furniture can provide a visual cue to other people that someone is performing focused work and does not want to be disturbed.

As part of our design process, we always look at what spaces and resources will support the working patterns of the business, including areas where physical and digital distractions are removed and which support health and wellbeing.

What is unique about POS's approach to design?

Historically, the typical office design was where everyone had a desk, a pedestal, some purpose-built meeting rooms, a reception and a small kitchen space.

We approach things differently by diving deeper into what people need and value. Then, we use these insights to ensure the POS team and our client has a clear vision and design brief to guide the creation of genuinely exceptional workplaces.

Desks, meeting and quiet spaces are still needed, but we help clients to rationalise and conceptualise a better use of space and to invest more into the quality of the experience they can provide their people.

We adopt new concepts and consider emerging trends all the time. For example, a concept known as "hotelling" has been gaining a lot of traction. The concept reduces the tendency of people walking into the office and going straight to "their" desk. Instead, it promotes the benefits of creating environments similar to a relaxing hotel lobby or a barista-style coffeehouse where you may sit in a comfortable chair to start and plan your day and the resources you need. Who do you need to connect with? Do you need a private meeting space or a workstation to do the things you wish to achieve?

What does the design process involve?

We always encourage clients to speak to us as early as possible when considering how best to improve their work environments and the benefits to their people. We know a more informed, vision-led approach can save time and money and ultimately achieve a better result in the long run.

Some businesses can still overly focus on every person needing a desk. We would challenge this and share more about our design philosophies and approach.

We can quickly show business leaders that the office space is not all about workstations and how we can design a more compelling and productive environment. This helps open up the conversations, where we can go back a few steps to start exploring their culture, purpose, people and working patterns. In addition, we perform site surveys and review the services that go into the building, so we are fully aware of what our design recommendations need to align with.

We strongly recommend that our clients engage their people as part of the design process. This provides invaluable insights, and we know that people are far more likely to embrace change when they are involved in defining how that change looks. We run "knowledge worker surveys" and ask specific questions about people's functional and emotional needs, including what would help improve their overall health and positivity.

We use these insights to help create a vision for the space and create 2D and 3D design concepts, layouts and mood boards to bring to life what is possible. We detail the design plans, furniture options and all the required work. We provide detailed budget analysis and can also support clients in reviewing their lease agreements and considering if the investment is suitable for their space or if it might be more suitable to relocate. Our project management team then leads and manages the fit-out to completion, working with our excellent range of local and international suppliers.

A highly rewarding part of the project is seeing our clients enter their new space for the first time. The pride, excitement and energy are infectious.

Do you need to inspire POSitivty in your workplace?

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