May 24, 2013

Workplace Strategy in Design: Gensler

“With the increasing amount of technology available and the increasingly globalized world, companies are seeing an opportunity to think about their work environment,” says Randy Howder, Gensler workplace strategist. “Tenant improvement design was once a ratio of conference rooms to work spaces. Corporate interiors used to be based on metrics, ratios, cubes. But now interior designers can be viewed as strategic partners, not just a cost.”

When the recession started in 2008, he says, workplace strategists were very busy helping clients cut costs and generate spaces that led to happier employees and better work product. Gensler’s team includes people from a variety of backgrounds (economists, sociologists) to bring different ways of thinking into every project.

The office environment may be less a place for production and more a place for exchange of ideas. “We don’t hear the word ‘productivity’ very much from our clients,” says Howder. “Clients refer to themselves as ‘creative’ and there’s a tension between those words. {In these companies} you’re judged on the contribution you make in terms of idea and your ability to help deliver them, so you want a place that takes the stress out of that.”

That means chance encounter moments around an espresso machine, and incomplete spaces—literally. Something that can be a struggle for architects and designers. “It makes designers uncomfortable,” Howder says. “You take it 90 percent of the way then leave the 10 percent and let the users move in and provide the patina that makes the project come to life.”

And it’s companies across all sectors—from technology to publishers to banks. See the slideshow to find out how Gensler interpets this in offices across the country.

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