Communality, creativity and efficiency go hand in hand in the tailoring of business premises.
London-based advertising agency Mother is renowned for its bold advertising campaigns. The company’s customers include Coca-Cola, IKEA and the teleoperator Orange. Mother’s business premises encourage employees to openness and creativity through diverse interior design solutions that support communality in the office.
Helen Sullivan, the Head of Facilities at Mother, believes that the communal work atmosphere of the office is one of the reasons behind the company’s success.
“We can work in an environment that supports teamwork and exchange of ideas. Mother wants people to feel at home in its premises. For example, there are dogs running free around the office and music playing 24/7. Our office is a fun, noisy, even chaotic environment that brings out the best in the employees,” says Sullivan, describing the office.
Maaretta Tukiainen, a consultant specialised in tailoring business premises and author, agrees with Sullivan. According to her, an inspiring office is an innovative multispace solution that reflects the core of the company’s brand and offers diversity, exuding the operating culture of the workplace.
Increased job satisfaction
According to Tukiainen, business premises solutions have a big effect on the communality of organisations and therefore on the well-being and productivity of employees. However, job satisfaction, a subject of a lot of debate, is the sum of several factors. In addition to the working environment, it is also influenced by management, the atmosphere of the workplace and the possibility of adjusting one’s workload.
According to Tukiainen, the working environment can be divided into three areas: social, virtual and physical environment. In an ideal situation, the working environment supports both room for work and working together. It can also be flexibly adjusted to various changes and facilitates work phases and processes of different types.
According to the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, even adjusting the intensity of lighting can contribute to job satisfaction and productivity. An increase of up to 8–9% has been achieved in this way in demanding tasks requiring vision, while halving the number of errors.
Silent information to support communality
According to Tukiainen, the communality of the working environment supports both working alone and working in groups and teams of different sizes. How can this kind of working environment be built?
Designing a communal working environment starts with involving the personnel. Employees usually have considerably more detailed and in-depth information on matters related to their work than the company’s CEO, supervisor, HR department or architect, for example. Some of the information is apparent and some is latent, “silent information”.
An involving premises vision workshop reveals what kind of support the personnel need in their work. This can be expressed in words and images, and used as the starting point of spatial design. The biggest error in altering premises is usually not involving the personnel in the design of the changes.
If employees are not involved in the design process, the outcome can be poor. Any errors and deficiencies cost a lot more to the company than involving the personnel.
“It is amazing to see how much easier and more enthusiastic the employees are committed to moving into the new premises when they have been able to take part in designing them,” Tukiainen says.
Boosting creativity through business premises solutions?
Can the creativity of workplaces, or even the birth of innovations, be supported by developing the working environment?
According to Tukiainen, the answer is “yes”. Spatial design can increase internal cooperation and the probability of fortunate coincidences, make the flow of information between different departments smoother and help ideas to meet. Premises also sensorily influence the employees’ subconsciousness and the creative processes taking place there.
Every employee is also an individual with individual properties and needs. This should also be taken into consideration when designing business premises.
The best way to take the differences between people into account is involving spatial design combined with open communication at the workplace. It is also a good idea to prepare common rules on what to do in the premises.
Tukiainen reminds us that involvement is also the foundation of an inspiring workplace.
“In selecting design partners, one should pay attention to how well the partners master involving coaching methods and how accurately they can listen to the wisdom found in the working community. The service attitude is also important. Some architect’s offices sell involving workshops that are actually only ordinary work meetings with the personnel taking part,” Tukiainen warns.
And what are the practical solutions that the Mother advertising agency has implemented to boost a communal, creative and efficient work atmosphere?
“At Mother, communality is supported through an open working environment, wireless web connections and numerous spaces. All of us employees also have lunch together every day,” Sullivan says.
“In addition, we change seats at the office once every six weeks. This is a great way of getting the people in the office to know each other.”
Text: Nina Garlo-Melkas