How a better workplace-design briefing feeds straight into an organisation’s bottom line

Graham Lauren
May 12, 2016 · 4 min read

By capturing the necessary detail and insights, a better workplace-design briefing can protect the returns originally intended in its investment in new work space, feeding straight through to your organisation’s bottom line.

My interviewees, including Marcus Hanlon at giant property trust ISPT, Tony Walsh at Toyota Australia, James Woodbury at WPP Asia Pacific and Suzanne Murray-Prior, a specialist in change and activity based working with top-flight, household-name consulting groups overwhelmingly support the premise of the title of this piece. Indeed, in my research to date, I have not come across anyone who doesn’t.

An effective modern workplace, achieved through better workplace-design briefing, can become an organisation’s principal cultural and strategic enabler.

If protecting culture is important to you, a better workplace-design briefing can create a more productive and happier collective space that facilitates new ways in which people can work together, solve problems and innovate.

In many instances, because workplace reputation matters, it can also play an important role in attracting and retaining the kinds of people the organisation wishes to hire.

Investing in space that is dedicated to increasing its collaborative learning capacities — essentially, its future — is arguably then one of the most important investments any organisation can make.

But the quality of a workspace’s outcome in operation is also therefore highly dependent on that of the briefing provided to its designers.

If you are lucky, leaving this task in the hands of a trusted individual alone might work out just fine.

In our view, however, a far more certain way of contributing to sustained workplace engagement is to secure the participation in its early design thinking of the many who will have to move into the new space once it is ready for occupation.

Our task as architects is to get a better return on built space for clients, and in the commercial workspace that means not just getting the maximum out of its floor area, but also its application to the strategic and culture-building aims of the organisation.

In the challenge of creating a workplace-design briefing, we advocate applying the most suitable of new collaborative social workplace technologies to the task, as tools such as wikis are the best ever invented for gathering and disseminating knowledge across a workplace.

Their use in this application will at least guarantee that the obvious improvements and possible future impediments to workplace engagement are not overlooked in the haste to produce a design.

In this, whether you decide to use Shiro Architects or not, I’d like to offer to help out as I have a passion to bring to the work of creating a more-effective design briefing using these tools. (There is more about this here and here.)

I also have relevant first-hand experience to apply to the task through my previous work as an editor on business titles at Fairfax Media, including the Australian Financial Review newspaper and its satellite titles, and in editing the wiki of a significant software development project engaging a team of hundreds in a Big Four Australian bank.

Social workplace technologies used to generate conversations properly seeded by appropriate questions can stimulate the responses necessary to root out what managers most need to know in redesigning a workplace.

They can be monitored to probe for sense, and edited to generate the detailed reports capable of giving architects and workspace designers new and invaluable material to work with, beyond the superficial and readily visible.

Thus, by capturing the necessary detail and insights, the likelihood of protecting the returns originally aimed for in your investment in new space are substantially magnified.

A better workplace-design briefing really can feed straight to the bottom line.

Importantly, this approach offers you ways of adapting your spaces to the needs of your people and their future, not the other way around.

Moreover, because this work is necessarily conducted in real time in the cloud, it can be carried out cost-effectively from almost anywhere.

I am beginning research to put this supposition to the test, and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of current workplace design briefing methods, as we can be sure that whatever techniques are currently in use can be improved by more appropriate applications of coming generations of technology.

Contact me if you’d like to know more, or you’d like to participate in my research.

Graham Lauren, director, Shiro Architects: graham@shiroarchitects.com; 0416 171724

About this post

This post was originally published at shiroarchitects.com.

See also:

How To Use Social Technologies To Enhance Your Workplace Design Briefing
Relocation: New thinking on workplace design briefing

Posted at The Urban Developer:
Beyond Activity Based Working
What Is Workplace Strategy, And Why Is It So Important?

About Shiro Architects

Workplace strategy is where building design, modern technology and new ways of working come together to deliver the future of work. Through dedicated research, we aim to understand how to create workplace-design briefings that satisfy the evolving needs of occupants, owners, investors and developers of commercial office space. For organisations looking to use relocation to kick-start change in the ways their teams think and learn, we champion the use of sense-making workplace social technologies applied to this purpose.

If you have something you wish to contribute to this conversation:

Email me about interviewing you for a piece like this at graham [at] shiroarchitects.com
Join the LinkedIn Workplace Strategy Australia group
Follow me at Twitter
Find us at Shiro Architects

Workplace strategy

Workplace strategy is where building design, modern technology and new ways of working come together to deliver the future of work. Shiro Architects’ research focuses on understanding how to create a better workplace-design briefing for the future occupants of commercial space.

Graham Lauren

Written by

Shiro Architects director and business writer, writing, reading and researching workplace strategy, learning organisations and knowledge architecture.

Workplace strategy

Workplace strategy is where building design, modern technology and new ways of working come together to deliver the future of work. Shiro Architects’ research focuses on understanding how to create a better workplace-design briefing for the future occupants of commercial space.

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