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Discussing Collaborative Workspace Design with Chris Pollard, Principal at RATIO Architecture

Miles HR speaks with Chris Pollard, Principal at RATIO Architecture.

What methods do you find work best for creating workplaces?

It starts with insight and understanding. More important than just designing an attractive workspace is getting the right space for the business. The goals of the company, the type of business, employee profiles, and definition of success all feed into the design of a successful workspace.

Your designer should work collaboratively with your team and incorporate strategies such as visioning sessions and peer engagement to minimize employee stress and resistance. They will ideally communicate and work with you through all project phases from programming and design through procurement, construction administration, and post occupancy analysis.

During the construction phase, a full-service design firm works as your advocate, reviewing work on site, proactively managing changes and vetting Contractors’ progress draws. All of this ensures a well-coordinated design and construction process, resulting in a successful workspace project.

What factors in a workspace design impact creativity and innovation?

Many factors contribute to creativity and innovation. Here are just a few:

  1. The design of the physical space has a direct impact on stimulating ideas. Take advantage of natural light and materials, colour, include flexible space and furniture for collaboration, accommodate for focused task-oriented work and casual social interaction.
  2. Providing visual and acoustic privacy will support employee learning, understanding and idea development.
  3. A safe, supportive and empowering workplace will create the social environment in which collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas thrive.

How does workspace design relate to company culture?

Company culture inspires how employees feel and act. When planning a new or revitalized workspace, the design should be driven by the company’s vision for the future, so the workspace inspires employees to achieve the right results.

Company culture and brand should be driven by the same values and purpose. Employers will want to include considerations for productivity, innovation, flexibility, customer service, collaboration and workplace health.

What are some of the most common mistakes when trying to create a collaborative and efficient team-working environment?

There are a few things we see:

In a rush to get a workspace redesigned and operational, employers try to condense the planning part of the project. It’s important to focus on understanding and gathering insights first; everything from current workplace environment, operational efficiencies, overarching corporate goals for the future, marketplace competitors, workplace diversity and brand.

A lack of preparation for when the tenant improvement project starts. Keeping a business operational while a renovation is going requires careful planning and communication with employees, customers, suppliers, contractors and trades.

Change is stressful. So, taking a top-down approach and not getting employees involved can backfire. A cross-functional committee can provide valuable insight and serve as advocates for the renovation or new space.

What three tips would you give to organizations looking to build or renovate a workspace?

Get clarity on the goals of your tenant improvement or renovation.

Choose a results-based design firm who will work to understand your company values and what is essential to your customers. Involve them early on – ideally before the lease decision is made. From the first meeting, they should develop an explicit understanding of what your organization is trying to achieve with your workplace transformation.

Your design partner should provide a start-to-finish solution that will start with information gathering and analysis: everything from current workplace environment, operational efficiencies, overarching corporate goals for the future, marketplace competitors, culture and brand.

Design with flexibility in mind so the workplace can easily evolve to changing needs.

On behalf of Miles, we’d like to thank Chris Pollard for sharing his valuable insights on workspace design for collaborative team environments.

You can also learn more about RATIO Architecture here!