Developing an Architectural Workplace Design Concept

Ian Brough

The Story So Far, Lockdown:

When we moved into lockdown on March 23rd 2020, we saw an unprecedented change that many of us could never have imagined or even understand.

We were told to stay at home, close our non-essential businesses and schools in order to protect our country and the NHS.

“The 16th of March is the day that I came to this House and said that all unnecessary social contact should cease. That is precisely when the lockdown was started.” – Matt Hancock MP, 16 July 2020

As information started to trickle through and we began to make try and make sense of what was happening we started to develop new ways of working, leveraging our technology, connecting with our families and friends in innovative ways and a new language emerged.

We were told to social distance.  Two simple words that have had a huge and for some a devastating impact.

Social connection is a basic universal human need, we are social creatures who need human interaction to flourish.

In an interview (https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/feeling-it/201208/connect-thrive­) Professor Brene Brown said “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” We are profoundly social creatures”.

So whilst we initially shouted our joy of working from home, many people are now rethinking how they feel about doing so.

There have been many studies focusing on how people feel about returning to work, this is one of them which found (https://www.hibob.com/blog/post-covid19-who-wants-to-go-back/) 64% of respondents want to split their working week between the office and home, it was found for some their productivity was impacted at home but even those who remained highly productive in their home offices said the number one reason for wanting to work from the office was to connect with colleagues.

 

Loneliness:

This is not surprising when we see the research that loneliness has on us.

research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University found Loneliness and social isolation are linked to around a 30 percent increased risk of having a stroke or developing coronary artery disease.

When we tell people, they have to be socially distanced, we invoke a feeling of loneliness.

 

Social to Physical:

We are keen to change this language, and shift from social distance to physical distance and social connection. It’s a simple shift but one that impacts on well-being, productivity and engagement.

 

Agile Working:

It is clear from the limited but interesting research conducted so far that people are craving a new way of working.  An agile working process that enables them to work both remotely and physically.   A process that allows for social connection and a place where productivity and innovation can take place.

And it fits so well with our basic human needs, yes we may need to remain physically distant depending on our situation and work type but people are still craving the social connection.

So how do we bring this together?

There are three components to every organisation;

  1. The moral component are the people.
  2. The physical component are the assets and offices.
  3. The conceptual is your governance, mission, values, visions and objectives.

When all three work in harmony/synchronicity – holistically our people and our businesses thrive

Covid has clearly had a global impact at an individual, community and business level

The working practices we have become so used to are now outdated, no longer fit for purpose.

Out of all problems comes possibility, as we go into a month of lockdown we have a chance to reflect on how we can collectively support our people, create innovative agile spaces so we can face the new set of complexities together.

 

Architectural Workplace Design Concept:

Architecture (Latin architectura, from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων arkhitekton “architect”, from ἀρχι- “chief” and τέκτων “creator”) is both the process and the product of planningdesigning, and constructing buildings or other structures.[3] Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilisations are often identified with their surviving.

We have the opportunity to Develop an architectural workplace design concept, focus on the physical component and the other two.

Architecture is a combination of art and practice in the design process.

 

Art:

Art is diverse, it’s unique to the creators imagination, to their values and vision where as practice is the application of the idea, bringing the concept to reality.

As we start to design the architecture of our new workspaces we need to re-vision the concept asking everyone to contribute. How do we want to work?

How do we want to use our workspaces? What do we want to use our workspaces for? How often do we want to use them.

Then we need to move to the moral component and put our people at the heart of this…what do they need? How do they feel? How is their well-being? How are the dealing with the change?

The conceptual starts to be defined as we explore the physical and moral components. Action plans and tangible outcomes can be created and costed.

Art is a diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory or performing artefacts, which express the creator’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

 

Building Interiors, In Partnership with Growth Pod:

Growth Pod and Building Interiors are currently focusing on how we can collectively support organisations to create the innovative, agile workspaces needed to support the new set of complexities we all face, whilst also enabling high performance and well-being to be developed and sustained.