First, we do it, and we’ll think it over later…?

The final design of an office should be the result of a number of successive steps. It is often a long, logical process the effects of which can only be seen in one of the last several-months-long phases. Working on the principle “First, we do it, and we’ll think it over later”, or expecting us to prepare a finished design or visualisation right at the start of cooperation is, unfortunately, a common thing.
For a final office design to be ready, you first need to carry out a work environment analysis, agree with all departments, HR and IT and take into account the needs of all stakeholders, but without compiling a wish list. Any, even the slightest change of design brings with it another one, which is often serious enough for the entire design to be redrawn. Therefore, the work of an architect who first makes a design and then has to modify it a number of times does not make much sense, and does not bring the desired results, delaying delivery. But for many clients, this argument is not sufficient. Explaining the sequence of the whole process and suggesting solutions often fails to change the attitude of the client, who still wants the project to be ready in the early phase of cooperation. This means the work of the architect is that of a Sisyphus, boiling down to fixing something here, changing there, taking out or adding something along the way. And then, the whole project turns upside down.
Personally, I support making purposeful and meaningful changes, amendments and improvements, and I advocate working with the Design Thinking® methodology, where feedback and continuous improvement leading to a final design are very important. I agree that the final design of an office does not have to be perfect. After all, the office will start evolving from day one, when its users start to work there. A few aspects need to be emphasised here: you need know why your office looks like this, and not anything else, and what stands behind any modifications that are made. This is normally backed by an in-depth analysis, very precise guidelines developed by work environment strategists and the knowledge and experience of the architect.
It is much easier to understand the effect of the work, if you follow every step leading to its completion. Therefore, instead of expecting a finished design of your office right at the beginning and then making subsequent modifications, let us think about the foundation. We should follow the process step by step, to make it easier to understand the look of the office and the usefulness of any specific distribution of departments or staff facilities. Let us face it: we are not going to complete an office design, with analysis and other elements of the entire process in a month. Let’s think first, before we do.

Author:
Wojciech Krupa
Managing Partner  | SMART M2

Warsaw, 19 February 2019