A case study that explains how the design of your workplace can help increase team engagement and boost employee productivity.
This practical case study will show you how your workplace can help you increase team engagement and boost employee productivity in your organisation, so you can solve the main employee related issues that HR Managers, like you, are facing today.
For this case study, we have selected The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)¹, one of our clients in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The large complex building where KIT is housed is the Dutch House of the Sustainable Development Goals², (SDG). It is a complex that houses KIT (The Royal Institute of the Tropics) as well as a number of tenants; all companies all working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
When KIT approached us, the institute was facing a major challenge caused by a low level of interactions in the workplace among the different departments, as well as with its guest tenants. Over the few years prior, parts of the institute were relocated several times and the departments were divided over several non-connected spaces.
Your workplace can help you increase team engagement and boost employee productivity in your organisation.
We took the project on and started the four phased AKKA process. After we started engaging with the teams in KIT, we revealed that there was a strong need for unity. They desired “one” KIT within KIT’s core team as well as with its guest tenants.
In order to achieve this vision of unity in feeling and in practice, we redesigned their workplace entirely, relocated some departments and created a centralized space dedicated to KIT’s core team, as well as other spaces shared with the tenants.
Additionally, common shared spaces were created to foster interactions and connections among the different tenants and between KIT and the tenants. The interior and the colour palettes were carefully chosen to visually represent the identities of the different groups of parties: namely KIT, tenants and the SDG house.
Common shared spaces can be created to foster interactions and connections among the different users of a space.
On the practical logistics side of things, since KIT teams as well as tenants were working in the space itself all throughout the period of construction, we had to phase the construction work and design the planning to accommodate for an uninterrupted work flow of all teams. During the design process we also made sure that work was done only when necessary and as many items as possible were re-used or re-purposed in order to save resources, hence supporting KIT’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Space is a strategic tool that can foster interactions and this vision is at the core of the work we do. In fact, at the end of the project, based – in post-project interviews we invited all employees to – , we were able to conclude that team engagement increased and the re-designed workplace helped with boosting productivity amongst users.
Additional collected inforamtion based on what employees have stated at the end of the project:
- Pride in the new workplace and willingness to invite a client in, increased by 65%
- The new workplace environment has enabled people to ‘feel good’ / ‘feel better’ 60,5% more than before the re-design.
- The number of employees that reported that the new space facilitates their different needs throughout the different times of the day has tripled (300%).
- 90% of employees report feeling positive due to the colours, look-and-feel, and furniture scheme in the new space.
- The number of employees that believe that the new workplace captures what KIT stands for, has doubled after the re-design.
This project illustrates how the workplace can be designed and optimised to solve many of the issues you may be facing as a senior HR manager such as the need to increase team engagement, boost productivity, decrease employee turnover, increase employee well-being and foster healthy interactions amongst employees.
To find out how optimising your workplace can help you retain your employees by fostering better social interactions, download here AKKA’s Innovative Workplace Expert guide, which contains the full version of this case study and more practical examples of other projects that show you how AKKA has increased team engagement and boost productivity over and over again for small, medium and large organizations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.
Use your workplace as a strategic tool to attract and retain the best talent.
How to create a strong employee experience in your workplace by shifting your role as an HR leader?
The evolution of the workplace has come a long way. Decades ago, the question was “What do employees need to work?” – A question of Utility. This then evolved into “What do employees need to work better and faster?” – A question of Productivity. And then, it became “How can we make employees happy so they perform better?” – A question of Engagement. Now, only the most advanced workplaces have gone a step further, now their question is “How can we create a workplace where our employees want to come to work, even when they can do home office?” – A question of Experience.
Creating a strong employee experience in your workplace is the key to attracting and retaining employees in today’s job market.
Indeed, creating a strong employee experience in your workplace is the key to attracting and retaining employees in today’s job market. So how can you truly create an exceptional employee experience? How can you stand out? Where do you start? How can you succeed? And, how do you sustain your success long term? Before rushing into adopting a strategy to create employee experience, there is an invisible prerequisite needed. The cornerstone of creating and sustaining an outstanding employee experience is your own mindset as the HR leader. For more on this, see our article: Innovation as the key to the future of HR leadership. Without the foundation of the correct mindset in place, you will not make the most out of any strategy, no matter how solid it may be.
The key to successfully create an outstanding employee experience in your workplace is adopting a new mindset around your leadership role as an HR professional.
What Greenleaf is referring to, is a mature form of leadership, one that is not dictating but rather serving. A serving form of leadership is one that facilitates rather than dictates. To be leaders in the mature sense of the word, we have to shift from ‘designing for’ to ‘designing with’. I believe this is equally applicable to me as an architect and workplace consultant as it is to you as an HR leader. For you, this would mean shooting your leadership role from ‘dictating’ to facilitating.
As you adopt this new mindset, make sure you set yourself up for success by aligning your team, all employees and your environment to put every chance of success on your side. Here are three things you can put in place to ensure your efforts lead to long term success. For more detailed information about how to implement each, see our downloadable book.
1. Use your physical workplace as an implicit tool to help support your facilitator role.
When it comes to your workplace, being a facilitator means creating situations that are incomplete, impermanent and imperfect. This will very subtly invite employees in your organisations to ‘fill in the gaps’ and share implicit feedback through their behaviour, often unconsciously. This gives you valuable feedback, hints, and insights into what employee experience would suit them best.
2. Optimise your workplace design to actively contribute to your employee experience.
Your workplace should not only be a shelter for your activities. When designed in an optimal way, your workplace can also be a communicator and express to anyone using or even just visiting your organisation what your company is about, your values, vision, and strategy. Even further, a well-designed workplace can act as an active enabler to encourage everyone in the organisation to live the values, strategy, and vision of the company.
3. Engage your teams in a truly participatory process.
Once you adopt the mindset of servant leader, introducing any change – small or significant – in your organisation is an opportunity to elevate your organisation’s workplace experience. This is only true if you truly facilitate the process. This requires four steps: understanding, then aligning, then activating and finally adapting.
So, as an HR Manager, in order to create a strong employee experience in your workplace, you want to adopt a new mindset around your leadership role, a mindset of servant leadership, so that you are able to attract and retain the best employees in today’s job market.
Are you ready to implement these principles? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and make sure you set yourself up for success by aligning your teams, all employees and your workplace towards creating the outstanding employee experience you need to take your organisation to the next level of success.
Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.
How to leverage your HR manager role to be a more effective leader?
The global challenges we are facing today may not be new. They are however of a magnitude and complexity we have never faced before. Today’s trends and challenges are bigger, more complex and more global than ever. And very quickly, these problems affect every nation, every industry and every organisation.
Yesterday’s answers are clearly not solving today’s challenges and so we need new answers in fact, we need new questions. Asking new questions and searching for new answers is what we at AKKA Architects believe true innovation is. And it is that form of innovation that we desperately need to help our organisations survive or even better, strive.
Asking new questions and searching for new answers is what we at AKKA Architects believe true innovation is.
Whichever these global challenges are, they cannot be solved by one entity or one challenge at a time. The knowledge needed to address these global challenges, our global challenges, cannot originate from a single discipline. We need to shift from fragmented attempts at solutions to a holistic and comprehensive approach to creating new solutions. We need comprehensive innovation.
Innovation is not an answer nor a solution, it is a verb, a process. Comprehensive innovation means a systematic approach to a process of innovation, i.e. a process of collaboratively searching for new questions and new answers. So, what does this mean for you as an HR leader?
Innovation is not a luxury. Innovation is a necessity.
As an HR professional, you can feel the repercussions of these global challenges in the world of work in the form of five main trends:
1. Mobility: the access to people and information anytime, anywhere and on any device.
2. Changing demographics & Millennials: the struggle to adapt to all different generations in the workplace.
3. Technology: Big data, wearables, the internet of things, Artificial intelligence, robotics and automation are just some of the technologies organisations are trying to figure out, adapt to or embrace and anticipate.
4. New behaviours: due to social technologies, the social behaviours of virtually every profile of people have changed and continue to change.
5. Globalisation: the blurring of boundaries and barriers has consequences on doing any type of business anywhere.
There are three practices that you, as an HR Manager, can apply in your role right now in order to stimulate comprehensive innovation and use this to your maximum advantage to be a more effective leader.
Principle 1: From dictating to extracting.
To ensure a solution answers your employees’ real needs, it is crucial to engage all different groups of people in your workplace and extract each group’s insights.
Principle 2: From compromising to conciliating.
Even in the case where organisations (its senior management or external expert consultants) develop a solution to a workplace challenge that answers employees’ needs, often employees do not agree with it. A typical reason to this is individual’s interest versus collective or future interest. Engaging people in a process allows them to see the relationship between individual needs and the collective/future interest, and will help the entire group conciliate rather than compromise.
Principle 3: From point to process.
Typically, changes and interventions in many organisations are offered -or dictated. They use the carrot/stick approach and they aim to impose/forbid or at best seduce people into the desired behaviour. In nudging behaviour, as in any change management project, we need to shift from an isolated project to a continuous process that can engage people on an ongoing basis. An ongoing process does not only engage people, it also takes them through a simultaneous education process. This educational process enables people to gain awareness and creates momentum, which results in employees being empowered to make more informed decisions.
Innovation is the key to the future of HR leadership.
These are the three practices that you can apply in your role of HR leader right now in order to stimulate comprehensive innovation. Remember, those practices can only be successful if approached with a mindset of servant leadership. And you as an HR servant leader can now lead your teams and your organisations through the ongoing process of innovation, by shifting from dictating to extracting, from compromising to conciliating and from point to process. Check out this related article: Strong employee experience in your workplace.
Do you want to know more details on how to adopt the mindset of servant leadership and how to engage your teams in an ongoing process of innovation? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and get the principles and practice to maximise your role as and HR manager.
Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.
There are three fatal mistakes that private clients tend to make when selecting an architect to help make their dream home reality.
The first mistake is to select unchallenging architects.
By this we mean, architects who would take your ideas and translate them into a design for your home, without attempting to enrich them. While this may sound acceptable, it is a waste of an opportunity for you, as well as a waste of your resources.
At AKKA, we believe it is our responsibility to help you create, enrich and sharpen your vision before we rush into creating the design that will embody it.
Creating a home is a very personal project and we aim to help you not only enrich your ideas but indeed, we will offer you new ideas to present you with a range so that when you select the final vision, it is not because it is the only thing you may have had in mind, but it is because you have explored enough direction to know this is your desired one.
At AKKA, we believe that our responsibility goes beyond design. Creating the briefing for the project, understanding what the question is, and what it can be is as important as answering the question with a design.
The second is that they select architects who focus only on what the space is and its physical attributes, rather than what the space can do and create beyond itself.
This is a very understandable mistake since most architects do not concern themselves with the space beyond form, square meters and functions. Architects are trained to deal with form, and so, they focus, design and deliver the form of a space, what it looks like, its sizes, proportions and functions. While this is all needed, it is a fatal mistake to only consider space in its physical aspects.
At AKKA, we believe that your space – specially a home – can, and should help you have better interactions, better moments and live a better life. In addition to creating the most beautiful and functional space in terms of physical attributes, we aim to create a space that first, embodies your vision, values and lifestyle as a couple, and second, a space that proactively helps you live those values, live the lifestyle you desire and reach your vision of your life. We aim for a space that not only houses your activities, but indeed supports them, enriches them, triggers better interactions between your family members, with your friends and visitors, now and as your lifestyle evolves.
At AKKA, we believe that it is extremely important to start from you, your vision and the ideas you already have about your personal life as well as your professional life (since you work from home as we understood). It is essential that we understand (and if needed help you define) the lifestyles you aim to create in this home. It is extremely important for us to understand you and your guests’ needs and desires. It is only after that, that we can create a space that truly serves you, and not only makes your life easier, but indeed makes it better.
Architecture means more than qualification.
The third is that they select an architect who will end their scope right at the end of construction.
Again, this is a very understandable mistake since no other architects – as far as we know – offer what at AKKA, we call an adapting phase.
Even though our entire process is designed as a participatory process based on you and your insights, our adapting phase allows for additional final refinements and fine-tuning after the project has become reality. We focus here of the small details that make all the difference.
How can a senior HR manager resolve the contradictory desires of employees for remote work, meeting and focus all at the same time?
One of the biggest dilemmas of most senior HR managers is to satisfy the seemingly contradictory desires of employees, especially millennials. They want to be more flexible, be able to work from anywhere, yet at the same time they desire more meaningful interactions with one another. They want more interactions and collaboration, but also more focus and concentration – all at the same time. How can you make sure that all these needs are met? Is it even possible?
At AKKA, we believe it is. We believe that it does not have to be either/or, because all these seemingly contradictory desires can be traced to one single value: interactions. There are different types of interactions and interactions can be of varying degrees of intensity. Interactions include individual focused time as well as collaborative work. If you design your workplace specifically towards fostering better interactions, then you can have it all. By creating the right workplace, you give people the choice and control to choose the setting they need at any given time based on their personality, mood and the type of work they need to do.
There is a wide range of spectrum of needs employees have during their workday and it is crucial to understand those needs in order to increase effectiveness, both on the individual and collaborative levels. A great resource for this is Herman Miller’s Modes of Work research1, which helps organisations understand these needs. At AKKA, we understand the wide spectrum of needs and design the workspace accordingly. In order to understand the specific needs inside a given organisation, we first engage with the users of the space (in this case, the employees of all teams and levels).
Second, we (re-)design the workspace, specifically to serve and accommodate for the needs, values and vision of the users. Then, once the third phase of design development and construction is over, our work as architects – unlike most architecture studios – is not over. We do not consider the ‘completed’ project complete and so we enter into the fourth and final phase of our process, the adapting phase. This happens when the space is ready enough for people to move in and start using it. Once people are inhabiting the space, we rely on observation of behaviour, patterns, frictions and added value in order to make the final refinements and adjustments in the workplace. These final refinements are minor however crucial, they are the details that make the difference.
The workplace can – and ought to – be designed in a way to meet the seemingly contradictory desires of employees. Your workplace is a strategic tool and you can now maximise the return of this asset. Make sure to hire an architecture studio that understands the importance of interactions in the workplace and takes the time to investigate and understand them, and you will be able to have a workplace that answers all needs of employees, no matter how contradictory they may seem.
When employees are offered choice and a sense of control, they are happier, perform better and stay in the organisation longer.
Are you interested in learning more about our philosophy behind the workplace and how you as an HR professional, can meet the expectations of your teams, retain them and engage them? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and get the principles and practice to align and engage anyone.
Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.
A company fails every 3 minutes1. In fact, research has shown that 96% of all businesses fail in the first 10 years1. While they fail for many reasons, employee-related issues are always among the top three reasons behind the failure of organisations worldwide.
To give you an idea, consider the following statistics: 51% of employees are looking to leave their current job and 40% of employees plan to change jobs in the next year². The cost of replacing them is between 16.1% of their annual salary for beginning employees to 213% of their annual salary for senior positions³.
Companies have tried everything to reduce employee turnover, paying millions and billions in leadership & management, staff development & training, and technology, just to name a few.
There is one solution that most have not tried or tried poorly. This solution is not only a “blind spot” for most organizations, but all organizations are already paying for it, only they receive no significant return on this investment. This solution is your workplace. In fact, recent research has shown that 89% of people blame their work environment for dissatisfaction at work4. If the workplace is one of the main reasons for employee dissatisfaction, investing in that space is definitely worth considering.
Your workplace is a strategic tool that can drive innovation and reduce employee turnover.
The optimization of your workspace, once designed and executed correctly (and this is not limited to colors, plants, light, etc.) will first maximize your return on the investment that is your real estate costs. Optimizing your workspace will not only optimize your return on investment on real estate costs but also on the costs of people. How? A better workspace can reduce employee turnover by improving the health, wellbeing and experience of employees, making them happier and the organisation more successful, however on one condition.
Through our years of experience we have come to believe that space can play three roles:
- Space as Container: Your space is not only a backdrop to our activities. Most people, including architects, think of space as a backdrop – the most beautiful, functional and inspiring backdrop.
- Space as Communicator: But space has another two roles to play. It needs to be a communicator. It needs to communicate to anyone using or even just visiting the space what your company is about, not by having the logo on the wall, but by communicating your values, vision, strategy and by the energy of the space.
- Space as Catalyst: The third and most important role of space is to be an active enabler. It is responsible to enable its users to live the values, strategy and vision of the company.
Your space is a strategic tool that has the potential to support your corporate innovation and reduce employee turnover. Space is an asset, a strategic tool – so use it as such!
Why should employee wellbeing be one of your organisation’s top priorities?
Drawing upon the latest findings of corporate psychology, we see that when employees are happier, there is a decrease in turnover and sick days & a high increase in sales, retention and innovation.
- Happiness at work decreases rotation/turnover by 51%.4
- Happiness at work reduces sick leave by 66%.4
- Happiness in the workplace reduces burnout by 125%.4
- Happiness at work increases sales by 37%.4
- Happiness at work increases retention by 40%.4
- Happiness at work increases innovation by 300%.4
For a long time, conventional wisdom held the belief that success fuels happiness. This means that if we work really hard, we will be successful and the more success we gain, the happier we will be.
Now we know that this formula is totally wrong. The world’s leading positive psychology expert, Shawn Achor argues that it’s actually the other way around: happiness fuels success and achievement. This means the happier we are, the more successful we are, because happiness makes the brain more engaged, creative, motivated and productive. In his bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, he claims that: “Each one of us is like that butterfly from the Butterfly Effect. And each tiny move toward a more positive mindset can send ripples of positivity through our organisations, our families and our communities.”
By investing in improving your workplace, you achieve many goals at once: employee turnover, employee satisfaction, higher retention and more importantly the happiness of your teams, from which derive all things good.
By investing in optimising the design of your workplace, you can maximise your return on investment on your two highest costs: your people costs and your real estate costs.
To find out how optimising your workplace can help you reduce employee turnover and maximise your ROI on your highest costs, download here AKKA’s Innovative Workplace Expert guide to see how our team of designers and architects at AKKA Architects has boosted employee retention over and over again for small, medium and large organizations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.
Use your workplace as a strategic tool to attract and retain the best talent.
1 Holmes, C. and Heald, A. (2007). The ultimate sales machine. Ashland, Or.: Blackstone Audiobooks
Since millennials make up 70% of the workforce today¹, it is more relevant than ever to understand the needs and values of this generation. This is especially crucial if you are an HR manager struggling with employee retention and keep millennials engaged.
Research has shown² that, millennials don’t feel satisfied with their office environment and blame their workplace for their lack of engagement. This research was able to show that nowadays, millennials are more concerned about how a workplace feels and looks than about traditional corporate branding. This is why, if you want to increase the engagement millennials in your organisation, you may need to be open to new, perhaps even quite untraditional solutions.
Looking at things through millennial eyes quickly reveals the importance of the office environment. Millennials are much more likely to come to the office because they want to, and much less because they need to. The workplace, the actual office environment is of great importance to millennials, but it is not because of the facilities in it, nor do they have a need to physically prove to their managers that they are working. See our article: How to meet the expectations of millennial employees to keep them engaged in the workplace?
Millennials are comfortable working from anywhere, anytime. They have the mentality to encourage them and the technology to support them. More and more, we are discovering that the only real reason millennials want go to the office is social interactions.
One of the most effective ways of increasing millennial engagement in the workplace is through interactions. Simply put, social interactions improve individual and collective wellbeing, which result in an increase of productivity and engagement.
Fostering interactions through space design.
Interactions cannot be created nor forced. Interactions are fostered when you create the contexts in which they can blossom. In other words, you can foster interactions by creating the contexts where interactions can emerge, and contexts can be physical, virtual or circumstantial (such as the context of a meeting for example).
As an HR professional, you are often busy with providing training to the employees, providing career and growth opportunities and finding ways to motivate them, all in an effort to retain them, and even attract them. So the first question to ask here is, can you conceive of such trainings and practices as opportunities to foster better social interactions among employees?
While trainings and growth opportunities methods are effective and fundamental, they do have a limitation: they have to be done at a ratio of 1:1, meaning every time a new employee joins, again and again for every employee.
If you consider the office space of your organisation as a context itself, then the question is how can your office space be conceived as a (physical) context that can foster better social interactions?
How can you transform this resource that is your office space into a vehicle for fostering interactions? And, not only is this resource one you have already, but it is also one you are already paying for. And considering that office space is the secondhighest expense of most organisations³, would it not be worth it to optimise the use of that resource? Furthermore, once you optimise your workplace design once, it will impact all employees, once and for all. It will do the job for you, even while you sleep.
Better teamwork and more innovation are two of many positive results that emerge from better interactions fostered in the workplace and this leads to a successful engagement of all employees in the workplace, including millennials. However, in order to achieve this successfully, you will first need to create a context that is inviting enough for them, a context that can truly foster better interactions.
Creating workplaces that foster interactions lead to increased productivity and wellbeing, which further leads to a decrease in your turnover costs, since losing employees and recruiting new ones is a considerable cost for companies. For more insights, check out our article: How an HR manager can reduce employee turnover. Your workplace is the most expensive, yet most underused resource in your organization, yet it can help you achieve many of your most pressing business goals.
Interactions are the key to improve employee retention in the workplace.
Transforming your workplace as a context to foster interactions is easier than you may think. First of all, let me clarify here that this does not necessarily require you to build a new headquarters or even move to another office space. This can easily be done in and with your current workplace. Even better, it can be done on high, medium, as well as a low budget and it can even be done without interrupting the work of any employees.
If you are curious how you can increase interactions in your specific workplace right now take the quiz ‘Employee Engagement Workplace Tips’ we developed here. Based on the specific situation of your company and employees we recommend the top three things you can do to increase interactions in your workplace right now and for free.
To find out how optimising your workplace can help you improve employees retention by fostering better social interactions, download here AKKA’s Innovative Workplace Expert guide to see how our team of designers and architects at AKKA Architects has boosted employee retention over and over again for small, medium and large organizations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.
Use your workplace as a strategic tool to attract and retain the best talent.
2 The survey was conducted online by IPSOS in collaboration with National Business Furniture in 2017. Their findings suggest that office design and aesthetics are of great importance for young adults (aged 18-34). According to the survey, 76% agree that space design strongly influences their impression of a company. 70 % of the respondents feel that the office environment needs improvements in terms of design.
3 Avis, M. and Gibson, V. (1995) Real Estate Resource Management, GTI in association with Oxford Brookes University and the University of Reading, Wallingford.
If you have problems maximizing turnover, fostering more meaningful interactions in your workplace or engaging millennials, the solution is in your workplace. More precisely, it is in designing workplaces that are in alignment with your goals and vision. After all, your workplace is where your employees spend most of their time and it has a tremendous influence on how they feel and perform. As much as your workplace can work against you, there is also an opportunity to make work for you. See our article: The fast and easy solution to retain employees in your workplace.
When you have decided to set yourself and your colleagues up for success by optimising your workplace, the next thing is hiring the right architect for your workplace.
Hiring the right architect for your workplace design can be difficult and overwhelming.
In order to help you make the right decision, I share here the 3 common yet fatal mistakes that most companies make when hiring an architect for their workplace:
Mistake #1: Choosing unchallenging architects.
The first mistake is to select unchallenging architects. By this I mean, architects who would take your ideas and translate them into a design for your company, without attempting to enrich them. While this may sound acceptable, it is a waste of an opportunity for you, as well as a waste of your resources. I believe it is the architect’s responsibility to help you create, enrich and sharpen your vision before rushing into creating an actual workplace design that will embody it. Creating a workplace is a very strategic opportunity and as an architect myself, I believe that your architect’s aim should be to help you not only enrich your ideas but indeed, offer you new ideas to present you with a range so that when you reach the final vision, it is not because it was the only thing you may have had in mind, but it is because you have explored enough directions to know this is your desired one. Creating the briefing for the project, understanding what the question is, and what it can be is as important as answering the question with a design; and too many architects rush to design before spending enough attention on your question and your real needs as a client.
Mistake #2: Choosing architects who consider only the physical aspects of your workplace.
The second fatal mistake clients make when hiring an architect for their workplace is that they select architects who focus only on what space is and its physical attributes, rather than what space can do and create beyond itself. This is a very understandable mistake since most architects do not concern themselves with the space beyond form, square meters, and functions. Architects are trained to deal with form, and so, they focus, design and deliver the form of a space, what it looks like, its sizes, proportions, and functions. While this is all needed, it is a fatal mistake to only consider space in its physical aspects. I believe that your workplace can, and should help your employees have better interactions, better collaboration and indeed perform better work. In addition to creating the most beautiful and functional space in terms of physical attributes, I believe that your architect should aim to create a space that first, embodies your vision, values and business model and second, a space that proactively helps your employees live those values, and create the work and impact they are aiming for. Your workplace should not only house your activities, but indeed support them, enrich them, and trigger better interactions between employees. This will ensure that your new workplace design empowers your employees, supports your business model and serves your client better. All in all, I believe it is totally realistic to expect and demand from your workplace design to help accelerate
and optimise your work and the impact you aim to make in this world. Your workplace can be designed to do exactly that. The problem is that not many architects know how to create a workplace that can foster the interactions needed for it. So when hiring an architect for your workplace, look for an architect that has a vision and experience around workplace interactions.
Mistake #3: Choosing architects who leave when the project is completed.
The third fatal mistake clients usually make when hiring an architect for their workplace is that they select an architect who will end their involvement right at the end of implementation, including construction, installation and delivery of all items are completed. Again, this is a very understandable mistake since no architects – as far as we know – offer what I call an adapting phase. What I would recommend is that you select an architect that is ccustomed to staying beyond the end of construction in order to, on the one hand help your employees settle in the new workplace and on the other hand to learn from their behaviour in order to improve the workplace when and where needed, and refine and finetune the details that make all the difference.
Are you interested in knowing more about what you can expect from your architect? Are you curious about what an architecture vision can be and how it can help you and your company innovate and succeed? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and get to know the vision and process of AKKA Architects, and most importantly, how it can help you.
Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.
Why only a future proof organisation is truly a sustainable workplace?
The setting is the University of Oxford in England. The university is over 900 years old. So, as you can imagine, its buildings are pretty old, too. One particular building is around 150 years old. What makes this building special – other than its age – is its roof. It was made from special oak beams – fulllength trunks of oak trees. However, being 150 years old, the oak beams were naturally beginning to rot and fall apart, so the faculty came together to discuss the matter. After figuring out the cost of replacing the beams, they quickly realized that they couldn’t afford it. During the discussion, one of the younger members of the faculty said: “Before we take any drastic measures, let me do some research.” So she did and came back two weeks later to shared her findings with the other faculty members: “I am very pleased we did the research, she said because we discovered that the architect who built this very building 150 years ago, planted a group of oak trees specifically for this purpose.”
This story comes from Gregory Bateson and it perfectly illustrates what I believe the true meaning of sustainability to be. Sustainability is larger than the ecological concept it is often equated to. Getting ahead of future challenges is nowadays one of the most common struggles HR Managers in any kind of organisation face. Whereas you are part of a large or small organisation, and wherever you are based in the world, you need to get ahead of the challenges, changes, and trends of the future, and it seems that you need to do that today.
Thinking into the future and facilitating processes and systems, even 150 years ahead, is how we can create sustainable systems, meaning systems that can sustain themselves in the long term future. I convience of organisations and workplaces to be systems in themselves and I beleive this is how we can create truly sustainable workplaces.
There are many definitions of the term sustainability, such as “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment” or “the quality of being able to continue over a period of time”.
We at Akka Architects believe in the large meaning of sustainability and we define sustainable as a system being able to sustain itself for the long term future. And in that sense, creating sustainable workplaces is crucial in achieving future proof organisations.
We believe that the essence of sustainability is to achieve a balance between people’s interests now and the interest of future generations. Sustainability is not only ecological, but also economic and social. When we consider the future of organisations, we quickly realise that sustainability, specifically meaning a sustainable HR approach and sustainable HR practices are essential in making organisations future proof workplaces sustainable. In order to succeed in preparing your organisation to not only survive but to thrive in the future, there are three qualities of sustainability to keep in mind. As an HR leader, think about how can you embed these qualities in your HR practices.
Quality #1: PHYSICAL
Firstly, sustainability is about the physical quality of the materials, that we employ here and now. This is where most of the global discourse on sustainability and even sustainable workplaces is today. This physical quality relates to, for example, materials selection, such as the use of safe, healthy, recycled, recyclable, biodegradable materials that are able to be maintained within biological or technical metabolisms.
In addition to materials, we also speak here about sustainable products or systems. This concerns how materials come together to create systems that are in themselves also sustainable. Think of simple products such as a chair or more complex systems such as an energy cycle. While those examples are tangible material examples, this quality applies to your HR practices as well. This quality is essentially the first layer of physical quality that can help you evaluate how sustainable are your practices, in the here and now
Quality #2: RESILIENT
Beyond the very physicality of materials and systems, sustainability needs to be adaptive, assimilative and resilient of the changes it faces. This is a responsive quality of sustainability. Being resilient to changes does not mean resisting them. On the contrary, it actually means being able to embrace them and adapt to them. This is where we need to consider consequences in the shortterm future and create our products and services in a way that will stand the test of time. What if the materials we use and systems we create wouldn’t lose value over time? Even better, what if – like real estate –, products and services could gain value over time? In any case, whatever we design, physical or abstract products, programs or services, we need to ensure they remain agile and able to adapt to changing circumstances. How can you tweak and refine your HR practices to be more resilient? How can you create a sustainable workplace that is truly resilient?
Quality #3: ANTICIPATORY
Beyond the current state of things in the present and immediate future, sustainability should also be concerned with the longterm future. The most mature quality of sustainability is one that anticipates the foreseeable, as well as the unforeseeable future trends. As opposed to the responsive quality of resilience, here it is about a proactive quality. Here we need to empower the systems we create to be able to adapt themselves, by themselves. This is what will enable a system to sustain itself over the long-term future and be truly future proof. How can you reimagine your HR practices to be more anticipatory? How can you embed an anticipatory quality in your HR practices and elevate them to a whole new level? How can you create a sustainable workplace that is anticipatory?
In essence, sustainability embraces the physical reality of now, builds in the resilience and agility to adapt to constantly changing conditions and the intelligence of anticipatory thinking.
Designing sustainably is facilitating processes into the future.
In order to set yourself and your company up for success, you need to ensure your organisation is future proof and your workplace sustainable. Embedding the three qualities of sustainability – the physical quality, the quality of resilience and the anticipatory quality – in your HR practices as a professional individual, as a team and as an organisation, can ensure that you create a truly sustainable workplace.
In the specific situation of your organisation and your context, how can you embed these three sustainable qualities in your HR practices? What would it mean for you, your colleagues, your clients, and your impact if you adopted more sustainable practices?
Are you interested in more sustainable HR practices? Would you like to create a future proof organization in a sustainable way? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and get the mindset as well as the practical four steps to take your organization to the next level.