The first most important quality of an architect for your workplace: A vision.
Would you rather have a colleague do a good job, or a great job? For most people, the answer to that question is easy. Great success stories are better than good ones. Great sales are better than good sales. When you are investing in a new workplace for your team, you want a great architect – not just a good one. And, as Sinek puts it, greatness starts with a vision.
One of the most important qualities in an architect is their vision. This translates into two questions: do they have one? And does it align with your organization’s vision? Everyone sees the world a little bit differently, and every architect will have a different vision – assuming they have one – of how the world should be, what the responsibilities of an architect are, what the relationship with clients and inhabitants should look like and how architecture can contribute to a better world.
When you are investing in a new workplace for your team, you want a great architect – not just a good one.
When deciding on an architect to design your next workplace, it is not good enough that he/she has a vision. Their vision needs to align with the vision, values and goals of your own organization. As a workplace professional, whether Human Resources, Facility Managers or Corporate Real Estate managers, it is usually part of your scope to translate the organization’s vision and goals into the daily operations and manifestations of the company. Your workplace is no exception. It too, needs to represent as well as enable your vision, values and goals. Your architect needs to not only understand this but also embrace it.
Your architect has to understand the goals of your business, and put them ahead of the aesthetics of the building.
An architect who sees your project as an opportunity to experiment with form, or even a vision that is not connected to yours; while the project may or may not turn out beautiful, it will surely not be one that nurtures your teams. At its worst, an architect who forces their own design on the company may make it impossible for the company to grow. Recent research has shown that “Workplace design needs then to be recognized for its role in work processes, not merely as an exercise to develop a three-dimensional representation of the brand or as a conundrum to match headcount with lettable area”1. Imagine trying to run a stock exchange in a daycare, or a veterinarian office from a public pool. Although these examples are extreme, an architect with a vision that does not match yours can make it that hard to work in your new environment. You want your architect to understand the goals of your business, and put them ahead of the aesthetics of the building. This does not mean an excuse for a workplace lacking aesthetics. As Stephanie Hughes says “beauty is not a luxury, it is essential”. A well-designed workplace will have both and place aesthetics at the service of the quality of the interactions it nurtures.
As a workplace professional, in your search for the perfect architect, remember to check for their vision and verify the alignment of visions and values. While there are many things you want to be checking for, at the core of it all, interview your architect to find out if their vision revolves around people. People are the core of it and a great starting point. According to the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-being, well-being in the workplace is considered the outcome of workplace interactions.2The more you focus on the quality of workplace interactions within your team, the more you will benefit from higher productivity, lower turn over, and happier employees.
What better way to improve the quality of a building, than to find an architect whose vision involves promoting positive workplace interactions? An architect with this sort of vision can help bridge the gap between where you are now, and where you want to go, by giving you the workplace that supports your daily interactions at work.
We believe that space is a strategic tool that can foster interactions, and any added value or innovation, small or large, starts with interactions. Interactions are the seeds of innovation. At the intersection of the main forms of interaction – creativity, collaboration and learning –added value emerges. Are you interested in learning about our vision at AKKA and how it can support your workplace design? Download here the excerpt of the book The Power of Interactions.