It is no secret that there is a proven link between working environment design and improvements in the productivity, health and learning capacity of building occupants. However, it seems this valuable link is a frequently neglected tool in the management toolkit. New Zealand, in particular, commonly undervalues the effect that the working environment has on staff morale, ambition, and productivity.
Smart companies, however, are increasingly recognising the emotional value of office space and its effect on the bottom line. Workplace design not only has a fundamental affect on staff wellbeing, it also supports organisational culture, both having a strong impact on the company brand.
Imagine the value to our economy if we empowered our workforce with a vision for excel lence. Imagine if the staff members in your organisation were fully engaged, driven, on board with organisational goals and excited to be at work. What would it take for us to achieve such a vision?
PRINCIPLES OF EXCELLENCE
At S&T we are actively seeking the latest research to be on the leading edge of commercial interior design. Working environments which are leading the way are being recognised, firmly setting trends of excellence. The principles evident from these trends can be distilled as:
An increase in connection and flexibility within the workspace - incorporating adjustable features into design. Knowledge-based organisations require office layouts centred on communication and workflow, enabling staff to convey ideas and information interactively. The workspace should invite opportunities to catch up informally and spontaneously; these organic, natural relationships are what form a genuine work community and a sharing, open culture. Smart office planning is also forward-thinking, integrating flexibility to accommodate the ebb and flow of growth and contraction cycles as well as changing team compositions.
Integration of branding internally - increasing the frequency that employees are exposed to a company’s brand. Such exposure reinforces their sense of belonging, thereby engaging them and facilitating cohesion among teams. Related to this, corporate colours can be used creatively to positively impact on office operations. Research shows that colours affect people on many levels. When they are smartly aligned to other components of design, they can facilitate work and wellbeing improvements. A number of international businesses have credited the use of functional colour with a decrease in worker absenteeism, an improved quality of work and an increase in productivity. It also goes beyond merely using corporate colours and logo, but also designing staff experience; investing in the emotional qualities that are part of brand perception.
A holistic approach towards sustainability – seeking to improve occupants’ workplace experiences and reduce environmental impacts. The use of natural light and ventilation can have the dual effect of supporting a healthy work environment and reducing energy consumption. Flexibility in space utilisation also reduces wastage by avoiding expensive and resource consuming reconfigurations. Less reliance on artificial light and increased access to fresh air results is office workers reporting reduced drowsiness, increased alertness and improved comfort. Energy use can be reduced by up to 20%.
In addition to applying these principles to create custom-tailored design solutions, we are steadily improving our service quality by incorporating feedback from previous projects into the new designs. We are interested not only in the immediate results of a refurbishment or fitout project, but also in how the building performs two to three years down the line.
Mercury Energy fit-out, two years on - We approached Mercury Energy to discuss how the refurbishment of their office space is performing after two years of occupation. Feedback emphasised an increase in productivity partly attributed to the state of the economy and pressure on current staff to perform, but enabled by a working environment that supports a trend of staff arriving at work earlier and leaving later. Staff contentment appears to have improved alongside spending longer hours at work!
Real results for S&T - Another of our projects which has performance-based results is the fitout for our very own S&T Wellington Design studio. Nearly a year after the completion of this space which achieved a 6-Star Green Star Interiors rating, we have experienced a sustained 20% reduction in energy consumption – with the exception of when it snowed in Wellington last year! Staff are adamant that they would not return to our former premises, preferring natural light and ventilation as well as the open plan collaborative work space. The design studio is bright, airy and lively with the added bonus going easy on the power bill.
Chief Executive Murray Pugh reflects that: “Mixing our engineers and architects, seniors and graduates, clients and collaborators all in a vibrant ‘alive’ environment has seen the creation of award winning work already. And by boldly incorporating our corporate colour palate in a fun and engaging way we are constantly reinforcing our own sense of identity – ensuring our team spirit is as healthy as our people.”
To watch a video of interviews with Mercury Energy staff, please click here!