Today’s leaders must choose user-centric workplaces or face difficulty in attracting & retaining talent
User-centred design is not a new concept. For engineers, industrial designers and retail planners, the user and user experience has long been the focus in creating products and experiences. This simple, common sense approach is a crucial part of how we interact with everything from smartphones to cars and packaging. Ultimately, good design is the key to commercial success and brand loyalty. In the realm of work however, organisations are largely ignorant of the importance of their users and how this impacts everything from productivity and wellness to retention and recruitment.
Until fairly recently, general workplace design changed little since the 50s and 60s, when the pre-computer office environment was rigid, hierarchical and paper-based. In this era, work was completed at fixed desks with permanent overhead lighting and huge storage needs. Management-staff interaction was highly controlled with visual and physical separation.
Today, technology, globalization, demographic shifts and numerous other factors have revolutionized how we work. We are now highly mobile, collaborative and ideas-based and urgently need environments which support these activities. “The more an employee uses multiple work locations within the workplace, the more they report that the space enables them to work more effectively” according to a Leesman study. Forward-thinking organisations recognize that a positive user experience is a powerful business tool to optimise performance and retain the best talent. Google famously revolutionized their workplaces, which became the benchmark for many other businesses around the world. However, the great misunderstanding for management was that Google created workplaces that were tailored for Google. The key to success was to apply a similarly tailored approach to their own organization, in order to create a customized and effective user experience.
The Activity-Based design approach is user-centric and intended to create a working environment to support the organisation’s users and relevant activities. In our evolving business landscape, this approach must provide the right allocation of space types, supported with appropriate technology and functionality. It is likely organisations of the future will be unrecognizable from those of today, however as long as the environment is designed to be user-centric, flexible and activity based, organisations are more likely to tackle the challenges of change with a highly engaged, productive workforce.