“Design creates the life of tomorrow. For me, it is the most exciting profession.”
These are the words of designer Jayati Sinha, who takes an incredibly empathetic approach to design projects across various categories.
She has previously worked with Yves Béhar’s design firm, Fuseproject, and she currently works as a physical and digital experience designer at Fjord.
Below, you’ll find some of her thoughts on major and minor changes in workspace design, some of which we’re already seeing in action and others that we may just see in the near future.
Table of Contents
- Hello, we’d like to discuss workspace design. First, can you talk about your experience in workspace design, whether in theory, practice, or both?
- It’s clear that workspaces and workflows have changed dramatically following the pandemic. How would you summarize these changes based on your own observations?
- Do you think hybrid work agreements could lead to a modular workspace environment? Is hybrid work an inherent mismatch with traditional office designs?
- Have you gotten the impression that companies in certain sectors, i.e. tech, are more motivated to explore innovative workspaces?
- How do productivity goals contribute to overall workspace design choices?
- Do you also see workspace design as an opportunity to address sustainability efforts in commercial buildings?
- Moving beyond interiors, do you anticipate increased attention to the neighborhoods where workspaces are located as impacting employee well-being?
Hello, we’d like to discuss workspace design. First, can you talk about your experience in workspace design, whether in theory, practice, or both?
In terms of workplace design, I have worked with big technology companies to help them design their innovation labs. These are innovation labs that need to focus on maximum collaboration to ideate, develop, prototype, test and roll out new products or services. And I’ve also designed functional furniture that focuses on optimizing performance.
It’s clear that workspaces and workflows have changed dramatically following the pandemic. How would you summarize these changes based on your own observations?
In very simple terms a focus on well-being, flexibility, and work-life balance have become extremely important as people are transitioning to hybrid working models but these aren’t new themes. I think I have been hearing my parents talk about it for as long as I remember. These themes have been bubbling under the surface for years and the pandemic has just drastically accelerated them to a point that personal well-being has become more important than work and not in a negative way. I am very excited about this new more humanistic way of working and living our life.
Do you think hybrid work agreements could lead to a modular workspace environment? Is hybrid work an inherent mismatch with traditional office designs?
If by modular workspace you mean multi-purpose spaces, then yes, they are definitely a very big part of the hybrid working culture. But again, I think the world has been adopting modular workspace formats for years. Forward-thinking companies don’t follow cubicle formats anymore or have defined rooms for the “boss” If by “traditional office designs” you mean cubicles and rooms behind 4 walls, then yes, it is a mismatch in the current world where collaboration is a big part of innovation. But you have to remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It all depends on the kind of work that is being done in the space. Some spaces shouldn’t be collaborative or open or modular.
Have you gotten the impression that companies in certain sectors, i.e. tech, are more motivated to explore innovative workspaces?
I’m afraid that I have not gotten this impression. Tech has just been this new thing everybody is talking about and looking at and so it would seem that way but it’s not true. If you do a quick search on the Topmost Innovative workspaces, you will find that all sorts of companies are doing this kind of innovation. The key is not tech companies but the leadership of an organization that understands the importance of workspace design. Building an effective workspace design can be essential to the growth of any company. Your surroundings can most definitely influence your productivity.
How do productivity goals contribute to overall workspace design choices?
The most important part of designing a workplace is understanding who my users are going to be. An effective design for productivity can mean different things depending on the type of product or service the company provides and considerations of employee needs since every individual has their own working style. As a rule of thumb, for starters, it’s important for employees to be able to move around the workplace with options ranging from an enclosed space to a fully collaborative open area depending on the task at hand. And one additional thing I like to add to my projects is the human aspect of feeling that you belong. I believe that the environment we live in is made up of the memories we have collected and often these memories are captured through the objects we keep so giving some kind of opportunity to make the space more personal would be a great add-on.
From the pop hut temporary housing to the memoir cabinet that I designed as a part of my thesis, I try to bring in this aspect. Even on a smaller scale, modular settings are great because then the employee has the opportunity to move things around and reconfigure for example their desk, etc. The new concept of designing office neighborhoods is also a great solution to compartmentalizing a big organization for more structure. People who have similar work profiles, departments that work together more often or A community of practice (CoP) are assigned an area in the office, instead of being assigned a desk. This can be a great way to promote interaction, collaboration, and productivity
Do you also see workspace design as an opportunity to address sustainability efforts in commercial buildings?
There is always an opportunity to think about sustainability. It coincides with workplace design since the use of open spaces and multipurpose areas helps with reducing the material used in building or filling up these spaces, and a good amount of daylight is brought into the space which reduces the usage of external lighting fixtures, smart fixtures for water recycling and reduction of water usage, resourcing locally and the list goes on. Blending a therapeutic landscape that helps in energy and water-saving initiatives with natural building materials and finishes to mirror the world outside can also have dual benefits.
Moving beyond interiors, do you anticipate increased attention to the neighborhoods where workspaces are located as impacting employee well-being?
Research has found that exposure to natural environments enhances working memory, cognitive flexibility, and attentional control, while urban environments are linked to attention deficits. So tapping into the therapeutic role of the natural environment is definitely something I can see people working on especially post the pandemic isolation distress. By engaging therapeutic landscape design principles and tapping into nature’s influence over human emotions, we can create spaces that transform our mood, reduce stress, and bring calmness to our lives. Designing mixed-use neighborhoods where there are opportunities to live closer to workplaces but also have access to shops, services, and recreational facilities can be a great asset.