Incorporating Culture

Managing risk by Design

This, our last discussion on risk management based on the HBR article, we’re looking forward towards the future of human-centred design and how design decisions change why we build. 

Building for All of Us

Physical space intersects many areas including mood, productivity and health. Architects and board members may steer a build towards a grandiose vision, but having a strong team- with members invested in the happiness and productivity of all employees- helps keep the usability of a space in mind.

We are seeing a shift away from the traditional building approach; a new build looks and functions like an old build only larger, to one where the building design has a significant impact on the health, well-being and productivity of its occupants.

New trends for increased collaboration are redefining how space is being used and companies are seeing the return on investment of more productive, healthier spaces. 

Purpose- built spaces have additional flexibility to reduce the risk associated with conforming to an outdated building when it comes to productivity and health per square foot, but it doesn’t eliminate risk completely.

How are these new spaces different?

Traditional builds put business needs first: how much space can we get within the allocated budget, with little thought as to how that space will ultimately be used. This mindset would not typically create spaces that would increase the quality of life for the employees: multi-purpose quiet spaces that could be used for prayer or breastfeeding, outdoor spaces where employees could gather or work in suitable weather, or spaces full of natural light that improve mood and, ideally, productivity.

There is growing demand for new builds or buildouts to include a variety of spaces that optimize private conversations, collaboration, or even places to nap. In the near future, all companies will have some measure of integrated technology in their offices, too.

Build managers should understand not only how the company is planned, but how their environment adds value to the brand, staff members and the community. We have to collectively start caring about the usefulness of a space. Culture works in addition to business works.

So, how can we improve if we are already building?

Services of buildings are relational, not transactional. 

A trusted building partner will consider making adjustments to the plan while on the job, or even after completion of the build. Some of our examples include making HVAC adjustments when it was discovered that the planned system was drowning out conversation in a boardroom, and adding safe walkways outside only after seeing first-hand how the foot traffic was flowing on-site.

Overall, we risk losing employee benefit if the builder has limited awareness of how space will eventually be used. Moving forward, more builders will adapt to adding quality of life improvements- even if they exist beyond the original specs.