Pitfalls Of CEO Led Workplace Design

IMG_9366I recently read the results of an interview with a CEO about their requirements for office space,t he result was bland and in my view useless, they said that the workplace needed to:

    1. Reflect the proper, as well as a positive image on the company to clients, investors, partners and employees.
    2. Enhance our ability to attract and retain key talent.
    3. Demonstrate to our employees we are concerned about their health and wellbeing, (i.e. natural light, amenities and security).
    4. Be designed to enhance collaboration and enhance operational efficiency.
    5. Be impressive, yet not overly lavish (i.e. cost effective).

Although it would be impossible for anyone to disagree with this wish list, I don’t think it provides any insight into the real distinguishing requirement that this CEO had.  In fact I think this list reflects the way that most CEOs think about workplace, they think that the workplace can be designed to meet a single requirement, as if all of their employees had the same need!

My perspective continues to be that workplaces need to reflect the diverse needs of teams who will work in them, and therefore they need to be flexible enough to adapt as the needs of the team changes, or as the mix of types of teams change (I’m using teams in a generic fashion here, to just mean small collection of people).

I’ve written about the, idea that teams should be able to design their own workplace in a previous post and as I’ve been reading about workplace design recently, I’ve become ever increasingly cynical of the bold ‘top down’ workplace design schemes that seem to be more about branding (reflect the proper, as well as a positive image on the company to clients, investors, partners and employees) than they are about working.

Of course I know I’m being a bit unfair, because at least this particular CEO didn’t just say “cram as many rectangular desks in as possible” but I have high standards.

I’m writing this blog post in Blackpool Victoria Hospital which has recently designed it’s new main entrance as a huge open space surrounded by shops, seating areas of all shapes and sizes and a very nice coffee shop (shown above) with pervasive free WIFI.  Ironically it’s a better place to work than many offices I’ve been unfortunate enough to work in.  This is good news as I’m spending 2 weeks and 8 hours a day in this hospital at the moment.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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