Home' Commercial : Commercial Designs 2010 Contents 94 WA's Best Commercial Designs 2010
the workplace make people more productive,"
says DEGW in its 2004 publication Working
" e key to designing an effective workplace
is always to start with the work itself -- to
understand in depth what people do, how they
do it, how they interact with others, and how the
work might be done better. Managers need also to
identify the work practices, management style and
organisational culture that best support that work
and the organisational vision.
" e workplace, including supporting
technologies, can then be moulded to fit and
support the desired changes in work activities
"Not only does this maximise effective work,
it is also likely to result in a more empowered
workforce who find it easier to meet their targets
and achieve a balance of work and personal time."
With today's business world defining the shift
from value residing in tangible assets -- bricks and
mortar -- to intangible assets such as intellectual
property and knowledge, the need to attract and
retain staff is more important than ever.
And while the recent downturn in the economy
has left fewer organisations scrambling for
workers, organisations need to prepare themselves
for a return to staff shortages and staff taking their
pick of jobs.
Certainly in Western Australia, with the
impending second resources boom riding on the
likes of the Gorgon Project, it is predicted that staff
shortages will again be a problem. It means that
now, more than ever, it is vital for businesses to
implement future-proofing strategies.
Providing an environment that supports
knowledge transfer, innovation and creativity
is a key factor in increasing company
performance, as well as staff satisfaction.
According to CABE's 2005 publication
e Impact of Office Design on Business Performance,
the workplace is responsible for 24 percent of
job satisfaction, affecting staff performance by
five percent for individuals and -- because of the
benefits of improved interaction -- by 11 percent
To put this in context, it has been estimated
that a two to five percent increase in staff
performance can cover the total cost of providing
CABE points to a few companies that, after
tracking turnover levels, made an explicit link
to changes in the workplace, highlighting
measurable reductions in staff turnover and
absenteeism, and measurable improvements
At a financial services firm in Sydney,
staff turnover was reported to be down from
25 percent to 11 percent following an office
refurbishment (due to operational as well as design
Similarly, staff turnover in a major UK call
centre operation was reduced by 11 percent after
a move to new premises.
is signified massive savings for the company,
which estimated training costs to be £13,000
(about $23,500) per employee.
Productivity also more than doubled, from
35 calls per employee handled pre-move, to
74 calls post-move.
Separate research showed reduced absence
from work in a group that had moved to new
premises, compared with staff continuing at
five other company locations.
And in terms of comfort, differences in
productivity as high as 25 percent have been
reported between comfortable and uncomfortable
staff, with the most important comfort factors
being air quality, temperature, overall comfort,
noise and lighting.
Aside from these "hygiene" factors, spatial
arrangement is also vital for an effective
It is here that one of the biggest challenges
lies -- balancing an organisation's requirements
for both communication and concentration,
and devising spaces that can respond to and
catalyse the highly complex process of social
interaction at work.
CABE says there is also a need to balance
a paradox: "that the best transfers of tacit
knowledge tend to be serendipitous, personal
and private; yet the best insights need periods
of intense and private reflection as well as periods
of communal activity."
Clear visual contact improves interaction and
Fitouts for NAB, Perth (far left, top centre and bottom centre) by HBO+EMTB, and DIA (WA) 09 Awards entrants KPMG (far bottom right),
also by HBO+EMTB, and HESS Exploration (far top right) by Interiors Australia are changing the way people think about o ce design.
NAB images courtesy of HBO+EMTB, photography Adrian Lambert and Robert Frith, Acorn Photo Agency; HESS Exploration image courtesy of
the DIA (WA); KPMG image courtesy of HBO+EMTB, photography Robert Frith, Acorn Photo Agency
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