Photo Credits Marcus Loke on Unsplash

What is Work Design?

Materializing your Future of Work

Today’s workplace experiences are driven by intensive collaboration and flexible built and digital environments. Designing your way of working allows to create good product-services and sustainable futures for your organization.
We are developing the practice of Work Design to help teams, organizations and communities to design how to work tomorrow.

Work Design is an emergent practice to holistically design spaces and processes. It pragmatically develops physical-digital environments and tools in relation to work methods and behaviors.

Work is an element that has always been ‘done’ and never really designed.
While the workspace has always been the focus of design, work as a holistic human and intellectual experience, indeed, is treated by different disciplines — HR, strategy, management, human sciences, architecture, etc.- through fragmented interventions.
Work Design look at the idea of the ‘second place’- work environments- bringing awareness on the physical, mental and social impact they have on individuals and teams.
We observed that there are discrete designable elements of work that, if curated purposefully, allow workplaces to be platforms to design and deliver successful product and services, while create fulfilling human experiences:
Methods and processes; tools and spaces; governance and policies are the tangible and intangible elements that we shape together with our clients when we intervene to innovate in their work environment.
We found that orchestrating these elements help our clients navigate the necessary cultural and structural changes to be a successful organization.

The humanistic qualities of design allow us to build a structured and systemic way to shape work around workers’ needs.
Design Culture brings humanistic qualities to areas that were just ‘made’ like software, products, communication, applying principles like critical observation, envisioning future solutions, prototyping.

We apply a work design framework that allows us to evaluate the socio-technical dynamics of your work environment, test new ideas to improve the functions of your workplace and the experience of your work processes, and scale solutions that allow you to reach your strategic and productivity goals.

Depending on the project, our services have a strong focus on either space or process redesign. Either ways, we always gradually build the relationship with our clients following similar stages:

  • We analyze current capacities and typical project scopes — through consultation workshops and shadowing of projects, partaking work sessions and providing help when needed, we immerse ourselves in the work routines of our client, understanding what is truly important to them in their business as usual.
  • We identify thinking and language patterns — to establish an internal line of communication and common understanding of the areas and elements that will undergo changes. On one side these patterns will be peculiar to the organization and its culture, on the other side they will align to the principles of reliable Design Thinking and Lean methodologies.
  • We ‘objectify’ the work elements — we design mini programs which structure specific research, ideation, prototyping, implementation (or any other non-design operation) of each work element. Based on material and space exploration, we co-design tools that fit your requirements and needs, and work sessions and formats that leverage the richest usage of existing spaces or its redesign for the purpose.
  • We socialize the new framework — we share the new methods, processes and ways of working in open sessions and with specific stakeholder groups. Testing them on projects, we refine them and implement the necessary changes in the organization while training teams on their application and implementation of the necessary physical and digital infrastructure.

To do this, Work Design brings together theories and methods from spatial design, design thinking and speculative design.
Through a multidisciplinary approach based on service-dominant logic, we also involve and incorporate contributions from a number of disciplines such as instructional design, data visualization, organisational design and operations.

  • Improve places of work by developing and testing physical environments and tools with positive impact on the cognitive load and wellbeing of workers.
  • Improve the Employee Experience and reach workforce full potential: by setting up spaces and tools that naturally facilitate the processes and methods of work in your organization, your workplace will be inclusive and fulfilling for all.
  • Readiness to the future: by adopting collaborative ways of working, you will anticipate the challenges that your near future will present, and update your workplace culture and infrastructures for it.

Work Design is a living toolkit and body of knowledge.
We publish new editions of each post as we evolve the theory and the framework applied to new projects.

Work Design Portfolio

An emergent practice to design future work environments, curated by Studio Wé.

Work Design Portfolio

This is Studio Wé’s archive on Work Design, curated to showcase projects, methos and critical reflections to design new ways of working and happy work environments.

Antonio Cesare Iadarola

Written by

Co-design consultant | Design PhD | Narrative Environments. Notes on coworking, service design, facilitation, design education | Studio-we.com

Work Design Portfolio

This is Studio Wé’s archive on Work Design, curated to showcase projects, methos and critical reflections to design new ways of working and happy work environments.