We hear it all the time. “Our space is tired, we need a fresh new look.“ Or “our space doesn’t enhance our work, it actually impedes our progress; we work differently today.”
Let’s face it, the most important thing about a space is how we feel in it. For individuals to feel good in a space and want to come to it, it is essential to obtain a level of engagement within that space. But even more important is how that space allows its inhabitants to achieve their purpose.
Herman Miller recently released a white paper about “Purpose at Work”. According to its research, “Purpose is one of 6 fundamental human needs that motivates us at work. Purpose drives us—as individuals and as organizations—toward improvement and fulfillment, and ultimately, toward a more prosperous future. Beyond improving worker wellbeing and job satisfaction, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that paying attention to meaning and purpose at work can positively affect an organization’s bottom line.”
Generally, our interior architectural projects begin with Programming (hard data, headcount), Visioning (soft data, culture, future) and Workplace Strategy Sessions. These sessions focus on how, when, where, and why people work and how they see their work changing in the future. We delve into a firm’s specific culture to confirm values, determine what impedes productivity and what supports communication, connection, and collaboration. It is this initial discovery and research that drives our planning and design work as we create new spaces. We listen to individuals convey what is meaningful and what connects them to their firm and their colleagues. It’s easy to gather from these sessions the organizations that focus on the well-being of their staff and the teams who share meaningful work.
Rankings of the best places to work in Dallas highlight what makes companies great to work for—it boils down to providing and encouraging purpose at work. And, ensuring that people know they are valued and appreciated, thus motivating them to aspire to higher levels of creativity and innovation. These elements define a company’s culture—and culture is the element that holds a company together and reinforces the collective purpose of the firm.
So in reality, the really great spaces are not those with the “wow,” or the hot new trend; the truly successful spaces are those that reinforce company values, focus on their occupants, allow them to find meaning in their work, and increase their level of engagement, attention, and action. Those are the spaces that really make a difference.
Jo Heinz is a Dallas-based Principal at DLR Group / Staffelbach.