There should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the design of a workplace, so it’s no surprise that in businesses around the country, different people assume responsibility for organisations’ commercial interiors. Often, it’s an office manager or an MD, but here, Tom Foster explores three scenarios where other key colleagues take the reins.
Whether we’re talking serviced office complexes or vast shopping centres, facilities managers have a key part to play. Ultimately their role focuses on the provision of fit-for-purpose spaces that deliver a warm welcome for employees and visitors alike.
Some facilities managers work closely with architects and construction firms before the premises even exist, and others come on-site when building work is complete and the space is vacant. At this stage, they’re faced with a blank canvas. Many will don their ‘hospitality hat’ and assume responsibility for providing welcoming communal areas, whereas others will leave that to an interiors team, preferring instead to focus purely on the functional or maintenance side of works – in other words, ensuring nothing goes wrong.
However, very few generally get involved in the finishing touches of a business’s own individual surroundings. So, whether it’s a tenant’s office or a shop fit-out, they leave the visual detail to the people who are going to occupy the space.
As creative professionals, marketing managers frequently get involved in our clients’ projects. This is especially the case if the space is going to be customer-facing – it needs to be ‘on brand’, set the right impression and reflect the values the organisation is (or wishes to become) renowned for.
A number of marketing managers assume responsibility for internal communication too, mindful that if employees don’t live and breathe the brand proposition, how will they effectively convey it to the customer base? They therefore increasingly have a role to play in commercial interior schemes, even when the environment is non-customer-facing.
The involvement of such colleagues tends to be a value-adding aide to any workplace design project. From visual thinkers to brand champions with unparalleled attention to detail, they each have something to offer, to ensure the space stands out for all the right reasons.
Marketing managers don’t typically concern themselves with more functional spaces such as individual workstations. This is usually because if they are given a budget, it will only stretch so far. But it all depends on the size and culture of the organisation, and the extent to which the management team realises that the surroundings speak volumes about the business itself.
To follow on from the previous point, it is no secret that surroundings have a profound impact on human psychology, which helps to explain why huge global brands such as Facebook and Google pay so much attention to their workplace design. From office interiors, to space planning, everything in a business setting comes together to affect employee engagement – one way or another.
In terms of basic hygiene factors, colleagues must feel safe and secure in their surroundings, if they’re to experience the foundations of job satisfaction. But commercial interiors should be so much more than simply functional. Business owners want their employees to be productive, motivated and fulfilled, but it’s highly unlikely that they will experience these positive feelings if their workspace is tired or dull.
Commercial interiors is therefore a growing area of concern for HR professionals – in fact, the trend for HR to be involved in such projects is rocketing far quicker than any other.
Perhaps it’s because the employment landscape is currently extremely competitive, and HR managers know they have a recruitment and retention battle on their hands. Perhaps it’s because millennials are demanding more from their employers, and what’s within the four walls contributes to a brand’s appeal – or not – when attracting candidates. Or it could simply be the case that in the age of social media, user-generated content and selfies, our surroundings – even in the workplace – have never been in the spotlight as much as they are now. Whether they’re being praised or called out for all the wrong reasons, manifestations of a brand’s culture have the potential to be far more ‘public’ than in previous eras. This is therefore something that HR managers want to get right.
Of course, these points are only offered on the basis of the projects experienced by the commercial interiors specialists here at Leach HQ. And, as the blog pointed out at the very beginning, there should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to tackling a brief. An FM may be a driving force in one project, for example, whilst marketing or HR may head up another. In truth, if the resource is available, there is merit for a collaboration between