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Enhancing Employee Experience: Deconstructing the Office

"Employees are looking for offices that are both effective in supporting their ability to focus on their work and offer a more desirable mix of experiences,” said Janet Pogue McLaurin, Global Director Workplace Research, Principal, Gensler.

Herman Miller Dubai 46 RET 2048w

Recognizing how employees allocate their time and identifying the experiences and work environments they require to excel is essential for both business efficacy and employee involvement.

An ideal blend of experiences leads to diverse office layouts featuring various combinations of essential resources:

1. Information Storage
2. Screen Technology
3. Work Surfaces
4. Seating

Information Storage

Employees rely on access to information to effectively carry out their tasks. This encompasses various forms, including digital cloud storage, printed materials like HR documents and floor plans, as well as informal exchanges of knowledge through water cooler conversations and impromptu discussions. These exchanges of stored information play a significant role in reshaping the office environment. Leveraging the skills and experiences of colleagues is crucial for understanding best practices, processes, and potential pitfalls in similar projects.

The transition to remote work has not only changed physical locations but also reshaped office hours, emphasizing the necessity for round-the-clock access to a broader range of materials. This underscores the importance of enhancing digital content and establishing efficient systems for sharing individual knowledge.

It is paramount to prioritize organizational data as a foundational resource and designate individuals responsible for ensuring its accuracy, currency, quality, and accessibility. Employees should have the autonomy to identify which datasets are crucial for their tasks. Moreover, the pandemic has prompted a shift towards a more dynamic approach to access, based on project requirements rather than rigid departmental structures. Collaboration across business lines and utilizing diverse inputs are increasingly recognized as key drivers for achieving superior outcomes.

Screen Technology

Since the invention of the first CRT screen around 1897, screens have been indispensable for data sharing. Today, they are so ubiquitous that we hardly give them a second thought, seamlessly integrating them into our daily lives. Using a simple analogy of t-shirt sizes, screens come in various forms: small screens for individual use, medium screens for group interactions, and large screens for presentations, town halls, and signage. However, as screen size increases, interactivity with the shared content tends to decrease.

Imagine a hectic day in the office where you can simply approach a kiosk that guides you to your next destination, alleviating the need for cognitive effort.

Given the rapid pace of technological advancement, well-designed systems will eventually streamline our interactions to the point where we only need to carry our interfaces, such as keyboards, mice, wearable viewers, or haptic suits. Regardless of our physical location, these systems will seamlessly recognize our identities and grant us access to the technology and information required for the day.

Work Surfaces

Desk sizes have undergone a reduction, driven by advancements in technology and cost considerations, rather than being tailored to the needs of employees. Surprisingly, studies indicate that individuals retain information better through handwritten notes (Shibata, Omura). Consequently, employees require a range of options to accommodate different types of work—whether it involves learning or productivity—and should have effortless access to these choices to facilitate movement within a workspace. Encouraging employees to wander freely with their thoughts often leads to the generation of more innovative ideas; numerous research studies highlight walking as a significant catalyst for creativity (Tilson).

While sit/stand desks excel in solo work scenarios, their mechanical design, accommodating laptops and personal devices, can limit both size and mobility within an office environment. Therefore, it's advisable to provide desks tailored for individual and small group activities. Incorporating counter and bar-height surfaces, along with corresponding seating options, allows for versatile use, while also considering these heights without seating for informal gatherings. Additionally, prioritize furnishings equipped with locking casters for mobility and ensure that some items can be easily maneuvered through doors for impromptu reconfigurations.

Expanding beyond traditional horizontal surfaces, include writable walls and other vertical dividers like glass partitions. Picture having a surface readily available to capture ideas wherever you are, with the convenience of effortlessly storing and sharing these thoughts with others. Activating surfaces throughout the office enhances the flexibility of each area, promoting dynamic engagement and collaboration.


We've extensively considered the where and how of sitting—whether in the office, at home, or in third spaces—and the ergonomics involved, yet we've devoted less attention to the connection between sitting, well-being, and productivity. Various research studies have underscored the adverse effects of prolonged sitting and the benefits of physical activity. Picture experimenting with different seating options where employees can test out chairs tailored to specific tasks. Some may prefer kneeling chairs, while others gravitate towards exercise balls or rocking stools. These unconventional choices likely gained traction during the pandemic and should be respected when inviting employees back to the office. Some individuals might have discovered heightened productivity by incorporating walking into meetings and may opt to forgo chairs entirely for part of the day.

Process and Outcomes

Begin by prioritizing stored information, recognizing it as the cornerstone resource encompassing not just digital data but also the valuable knowledge, ideas, and experiences contributed by employees. This emphasizes the significance of coveted skills and lays the groundwork for determining when employees should convene. Next, assess the role of technology and how digital interfaces can facilitate equitable experiences among participants. Acknowledge the importance of non-verbal communication in conversations and factor in its influence on decision-making processes.

Provide a diverse array of work surfaces and corresponding seating options. These surfaces may include desks, tables, writable walls, displays, pin boards, or even chalk walls—encouraging employees to envision what best suits their needs and offering these as part of a contractual agreement: "If I provide this, you will deliver acceptable outcomes." Seating choices may range from traditional chairs to rolling cushions, exercise balls, rocking chairs, or innovative prototype designs. The goal is to offer sufficient variety so that employees feel empowered to choose what suits them best at any given moment.

The approach to workplace strategy has shifted from focusing solely on square footage per person to considering square footage per event. Allow employees to select the optimal combination of resources for each event. Some events may involve routine tasks like those in accounts receivables or call centers, while others may revolve around information sharing and decision-making processes. Grant employees autonomy in their choices and hold them accountable for the outcomes. This fosters a sustainable framework for evaluating the value of the workplace. The deconstructed office represents a novel approach to workplace dynamics, fostering new models of autonomy, agency, and accountability.

Reflect on the changes implemented in 2020 and reimagine the office space to better cater to the resources our employees require.

Space Planning and Design

So, you’re ready to transform your space but don’t know where to begin? Contact us today to start the process.

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