2020 Vision: Design Fit For Purpose

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As new generations enter the workforce they increasingly seek an alignment between their values and those of the organisations they work for. The search for purpose, therefore, extends beyond their personal lives and into their professional lives. Previously I wrote about 5 trends which would influence workplace design throughout 2020 and while the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped the 2020 landscape I thought it still worthwhile to explore the desire for purpose at work and how it impacts the design of our physical workplaces.

Talent, the battle-lines are drawn

In the race to compete for an increasingly limited talent pool - as older generations retire and younger generations pursue travel, extend study or opt for alternative career trajectories - organisations are exploring ways to attract and retain talented employees. Millennials will soon outnumber other generations in the workforce and as the first generation to grow up in the digital age they are curating their professional lives in much the same way as their personal lives, with expectations relating to the purpose of work differing significantly from previous generations.

Sharing across digital social platforms such as Glassdoor allows millennials to gain insights into organisational culture and workplace experiences like never before. Open and non-hierarchical workplaces which provide easy access to management and support autonomy and professional development are highly sought after. In this hyper-connected world organisations must therefore walk the talk in terms of their commitment to an open and nurturing organisational culture to ensure it is aligned with how most young people want to work.

Social (over)sharing and feedback

Millennials want access to colleagues and naturally work collaboratively and socially. They also seek immediate feedback and expect to give it as much as they receive it. Expectations around information sharing have changed dramatically as have working environments which are more open and communal. Conversations relating to commercial aspects of an organisation which were once confidential are now more widely shared, ensuring everyone within an organisations feels valued and intrinsic to its success.

The millennial social nature means they thrive in an environment which is open and comprised of work settings which support frequent communication, information sharing, socialisation and ongoing learning.

Choice and work life (re)balance

As millennials begin to occupy more senior roles within organisations they are changing expectations in terms of work life balance. Along with Generation X they increasingly share parental responsibilities and therefore are more likely to challenge the traditional five-day work week as well as embrace flexible working including working from home.

Plug-and-play technologies and appropriately designed work settings are critical in supporting flexible working. Management culture is also key, one which focuses on output rather than presence where effort is recognised and valued in terms of getting the job done not the time spent doing it.

Brand, more than just a logo

Translating an organisations’ unique brand story extends beyond simply incorporating logos and branded graphics throughout the physical work environment. A more innovative approach challenges designers to harness a company’s authentic value and translate this spatially in more subtle, thoughtful and creative ways.

A workplace which is restrained, balanced and composed of a few key design elements conveys a sophisticated organisation which prioritises quality, clear communication and professionalism. A workplace comprised of bold colours, edgy graphics and eclectic furniture creates a playful, stimulating and youthful atmosphere which conveys a disruptive, unconventional and highly creative organisation. Residential design elements incorporated into a workplace including soft rounded furnishings, layered textures and a warm yet muted colour palette can inspire relaxed communication and convey a welcoming, easy-going and people-centric organisation. A workplace which feels solid, grounded and utilises traditional materials including dark timbers and natural stone conveys a well established organisation which speaks of permanence, trust and tradition.

Design fit for purpose

Articulating why they exist, what their mission is and how they contribute beyond the communities they serve is essential for organisations who want to attract and retain younger employees. Organisations look to designers to translate organisational values through experiential spaces which provoke an emotional connection, convey authenticity and inspire meaning. Designers must engage with organisations to understand their employees, culture and the internal and external influences which impact how they do business. When designers and clients collaborate effectively the end result is a design solution which weaves people, place and technology to create beautiful yet functional workplaces which engage, empower and inspire.

To find out how we can assist you with your workplace in these challenging times feel free to get in touch at info@generateinteriors.com.au