Mindspace CEO sheds light on how Design Thinking is reshaping the office real estate industry
From office design to Design Thinking, coworking paves the way for productivity and motivation in the contemporary workplace.
Office design is a hot topic, proven to influence company reputation, employee retention, and recruitment. But in many cases, creativity goes overboard and companies are left with eye-catching office chairs that are very awkward to sit on. Design trade-offs are making their way into the workplace due to macro-trends that pay little heed to genuine workplace needs. New, futuristic office design may garner quick wins for companies that are looking to mask old-fashioned real estate solutions but, in reality, conceptual desks, plastic dividers, slippery slides, and disco meeting rooms run dry rather quickly. Companies concerned with the long-term wellbeing of workers ought to turn their attention to Design Thinking, an approach that uses storytelling to produce ideas and products more relatable to consumers.
The process of Design Thinking urges us to ask “Why?” rather than focus solely on the way our spaces appear. It encourages the creation of an environment that will engage, inspire and motivate teams, discovering the unarticulated needs of individuals before leading with solutions. Having designed 16 co-working facilities worldwide, our team has learned that fervent research into worker psychology — how they achieve greatness and what their precise professional wishes are — can be a key to creating a stimulating and happy work environment for employees and clients.
The basis of today’s traditional office design is often rooted in the perusal of hip office furniture catalogues and the implementation of novel, but not necessarily desirable, amenities. While these examples do represent design measures intended to inspire workers, they do not represent Design Thinking. The process of Design Thinking embodies a holistic view of human-centered workspace, drawing upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning to explore the limits and possibilities of the intangible ‘feel’ of an office.
A design mindset is not problem-focused; it is solution-focused and action-oriented towards creating a preferred future. Much like coworking itself, it grew out of a temporary solution for freelancers and has become a permanent fixture that is redefining working life.
The overall value of design is hard to measure and define as a business strategy. Most businesses don’t engage in the effort to make their spaces look fabulous, but ‘Design Thinkers’ use a structured framework for understanding and pursuing innovation in ways that add real value. In 2014, it was discovered that the most innovative companies in the world employ Design Thinking as an integrative resource that makes them innovate most efficiently and successfully. The DMI Design Value Index revealed that over the previous 10 years design-led companies maintained a significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an amazing 228%.
Coworking spaces typically strive to provide an environment that is both a real estate and human resources solution. As opposed to just providing a place to work, coworking focuses on desired actions and results to increase effectiveness. Workplaces that are motivated by ‘Design Thinking’ produce loyal, happy and dedicated employees who are inspired to reinvent themselves every day and to innovate like never before. While office design is generally developed from a place of revenue and profit interest, coworking spaces like Mindspace are concerned with the deep understanding of key stakeholder needs.
For those considering a redesign of their space, it is important to build an environment that can contain two worlds while also creating a culturally inspired atmosphere that is professional and uplifting. Art is the cornerstone of Design Thinking, and in the workplace, it defines the attitude and character of the brand, as well as the atmosphere it aims to create. At Mindspace, we achieve this by researching and partnering with local artists to curate a balance of both lighthearted and thought-provoking pieces to exhibit throughout the site. While critical art is stimulating and requires deep interpretation, the juxtaposition of tongue-in-cheek creations reminds team members to have a good time.
Contrary to popular belief, the new age of coworking is not about open-space. It’s a shared working environment with private offices where teams can focus in privacy and still have access to shared spaces and community right outside their door. Diversifying working life with a dynamic physical environment is key to getting things done productively, and it’s also wonderful for people who work late and may need to shake things up. Revolutionary design solutions indeed stem from observations and allowing consumers to take the lead. As Peter Drucker once said, “A designer’s job is to convert need into demand.”
Theoretically, open space is fun, but most people require a distraction-free environment to work efficiently. This doesn’t mean we stray from having a good time; many spaces like ours are kitted out with swings, bean bags, dens, secret hideouts, private booths, and more. Loving your work goes a long way — the right environment encourages workers to be more devoted and positions a company to attract the finest talent.
‘Design Thinking’ is for everyone, not just for designers. Product managers, CEOs, HR managers, entrepreneurs — think of how you would like something to work or play out and design it to facilitate that objective. It begins with the end in mind and offers a truly integrative approach to projects.