Designing future-proof workplaces through data and strategic planning

Real Estate Insight from Yullianna Porter, Head of Workplace & Design MEA, Project & Development Services

Covid has taught us many lessons – the power and importance of workspace design is one of them. Today, people and their well-being are critical to attracting and retaining talent. With 40% of emissions coming from buildings, companies are also faced with growing pressure to make offices greener to meet ESG goals.

Worldwide, businesses are seeking to create environments that are designed for the future of work, keeping people, sustainability and technology at the centre of everything. This trend has resulted in the continuous evolution of collaborative, productive and hybrid workplaces, rapidly reimagining the traditional office concept.

However, jumping straight into designing the interior spaces without considering the user’s experience and their work patterns, what changes are required and why you need those changes is futile. This approach may result in beautifully designed spaces that are not ‘fit for purpose’, have insufficient flexibility to accommodate future changes and may quickly become redundant.

This is where strategic design comes in, focusing on meaningful and tailored people-centric spaces based on the unique needs of its users. Strategic design is a data-driven process that plays a vital role in helping clients make informed decisions before they invest in the office square footage and any aesthetics.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to design

As designers, we understand that the one-size-fits-all approach is not viable. Understanding the user’s specific need is crucial – how they prefer to work, what helps their performance, what are their business goals and future requirements.

The process involves a detailed and thorough evaluation of the users’ workstyles and an assessment of their performance-related ambitions. This process starts before the design team begins to work on the actual office interior and space design.

To gather this in-depth information, a range of stakeholders, from the company CEO to managers to the most junior employees whom the design impacts are interviewed. The whole process usually takes 1-2 months, depending on the size of the company and the scale of its operations.

This strategic phase provides the designer with a clear understanding of the client’s corporate culture, brand, aesthetic aspirations, operational needs and, most importantly, their metrics, including budgets, timelines and headcounts.

Moreover, it helps understand the client’s sustainability and wellness targets, allowing the designer to incorporate energy-saving smart solutions and sustainable materials to create a sustainable and innovative office.

Any successful workspace design should begin only after collating all such information.

Form follows function

According to a late 19th-century architectural and industrial design principle, “form follows function”, a building's purpose should be the starting point for its design rather than its aesthetics. As such, strategic design planning is the most critical step in that direction.

A relatively short extension of the overall design process, strategic design planning can significantly increase the value of the real estate by effectively ‘future proofing’ the space against the ever-changing and dynamic user requirements. 

When you change the environment, you change behaviours

By customising the environment of an office based on the needs of its users, the designer can harness the physical, emotional and digital dimensions of a workspace to foster higher collaboration, innovation and productivity.

An increasing number of designers now recognise the value strategic design planning brings to a project. However, it is yet to be included as a major component in design and fit-out projects. Allowing sufficient time to incorporate strategy within the design process creates positive workspaces that provides long-term values and a brighter future for the company.

Offices designed to be people-centric, greener, smarter, and more flexible support a high-performing culture and will be the key for a business to grow and thrive.

Within JLL’s Project & Development Services team, we help organisations upgrade existing office setup or design new workplaces fit for the future that inspires its employees today and tomorrow.

Contact Yullianna Porter

Head of Workplace & Design MEA, Project & Development Services