The Role of Science in Office Design

The Role of Science in Office Design on

On the quest to develop evidence-based office environments

Evidence-based design, or EBD, was founded in the design of healthcare facilities. Over time, the idea of marrying the scientific approach with design principles gradually spread to school design – and now, it’s gaining a foothold in the design of office spaces.

According to the International Interior Design Association, “It only makes sense that EBD has its roots in healthcare, where lives are at stake and legal implications are palpable, outcomes are fragile, and decisions need to be justified by hard data.”

It also makes sense in a world where monetary resources are finite. Design decisions are more financially sound when they are based on data rather than wishful thinking.

The basics of EBD

To better understand the basics of EBD, it’s important to think back to those days in grade school when the scientific method was first introduced to students. Experimentation and outcomes either supported or disproved the hypothesis.

The reason for this is that very often, one person’s or a team’s viewpoint may differ greatly from what is happening in the real world. In addition, design for the sake of design doesn’t always work. Feeling that you need an open floor plan or more meeting spaces may not satisfy what you’re hoping to accomplish.

Evidence found through research, however, can lead to ideas, which then become designs that can match the very real needs and wants of a business.

Gathering the data

Because there is no one best way to collect data, it’s often advised to approach the task with a sense of balance, one that uses objective, quantitative studies with interviews and observation.

Among the methods suggested are time utilization studies, surveys, workshops, workplace consultants, and focus groups. For smaller companies that may not be able to afford thorough research, there are studies that have already been done by various entities, such as AllSteel, Leesman, and Steelcase.

Begin with positives

Any data-gathering efforts should begin with a starting point, one that seeks to build on the positives that already exist. Re-invented wheels aren’t necessary, and they’re a waste of money.

  •  What do you like about your current design?
  •  What works for your company? Employees? Needs?
  •  What do you want to keep or think you need more of?

Once the positives have been established, it’s now time to look at the workplace roles, patterns, and behaviors – and any obstacles that may be interfering with your company’s success.

  •  Where do people spend most of their time?
  •  Who interacts with whom?
  •  Who should interact with whom?
  •  What are the types of space people/roles need?

Analysis and interpretation of data

Once data has been gathered, it’s important to break the information down and examine what it indicates.

If employees report they are spending 60% of their time at a desk, where is the other 40% of the day spent? Should there be fewer meeting rooms and more quiet space? Is there a need for more spaces for two or three people to chat, even if that space is a sofa tucked into a corner?

With this information, designers are better able to make or refine decisions.

South Florida design solutions

Compass Office Solutions aims for an ideal that changes the physical office and transforms the way your people work. Through design, there is an enhancement of both effectiveness and efficiency. We can help you achieve your workplace vision. Give us a call at 954.430.4590 or complete our online contact form to get started.