Recently I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time. He had changed jobs and was working for a large company on a campus. The building in which he worked was not even 5 years old and happens to be the same building another good friend of mine has worked in since it’s construction.
I asked him how he liked the building. He couldn’t say enough positive things! He loved the open office environment, it was ideal for the marketing group in which he worked. The modern décor, the huge windows, minimal walls, it is perfect for how the group works.
For my other friend, the building is a nightmare. She works with highly sensitive documents and cases and she and her colleagues must be on sensitive calls almost constantly throughout her day which privacy is paramount and substantial files and paperwork that are referenced. So, when this group moved into the new building, they went from an enclosed office environment, which is appropriate for her line of work, and were placed into the modern open plan, with few walls and small cubicles. Morale plummeted.
Somewhere in the design process, someone forgot to check with the users. Design and construction is never easy. Owners tend to be worried about the bottom line – money. Understandably so, but we need to spend a little time and effort making sure what is being designed is what makes sense for all the users as well as the budget. There really aren’t ‘one size fits all’ answers in projects. If the company intends to move employees around again, there are flexible options to ensure different types of user needs are met.
So how much do you really save by not providing appropriate environments? What risks do you run if what you’re building will alienate your employees, drive down morale and kill productivity? That equates to not only dollars, but knowledge loss when employees leave, time loss in training new staff and the learning curve. So when you’re running that risk analysis you might want to consider the long term effects on building something pretty that doesn’t actually work.