May 24, 2013

Workplace Strategy in Design: HOK

Though designers started thinking about behavior organization as long as 15 years ago, it took more than 10 years for people to really get what it is, says Leigh Stringer, HOK Director of Innovation and Research. “[Now] there’s much more strategic conversation with clients. They’re more dependant on partners, and they’re so global,” Stringer says.

But no matter where on the globe they work, one theme consistently emerges: individual control and choice. “Choice is directly correlated to satisfaction,” says Stringer, listing furniture, lighting, and docking stations (a place to plug in, and a chair). “Millenials want to come to the office and sit where they want to sit. That choice is the empowering part.”

Drop-in seats are appearing in workplaces across all industries. In the last three years, she says, even the most secure facilities are opting for open work areas, offering wireless everywhere, cafes and places that bring people together, and two seats for every person. Plus shared desks.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” says Stringer. “Not every trend is right for every company or culture. We need to help them choose in a way that’s really informed.” HOK workplace strategists may take a client on tours of other spaces as part of the overall research and discussion. But they don’t allow social influence to dictate final decisions. It’s always important to tie design to the core business.

As Stringer puts it, “Just ‘cause Google is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.” But she’s dedicated to finding what is.

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