Tips on how to future proof your workspace
We caught up with new Old Paradise Yard resident and workspace Interior Designer (turned work culture consultant) Maz Mahmoudi, to find out how best to design your workspace with health and wellbeing in mind.
Throughout her career, Maz has always put human needs first and followed her thorough understanding of how people like to operate to create inspirational work environments.
Maz Mahmoudi, Director and Founder of 3equals1
Maz recognises that now more than ever, the workspace is a crucial hub for productivity and a welcome break from home for many. Whilst Covid-security must be respected, there are many ways you can create a safe and healthy space for colleagues and employees to work from. Maz gave her team of 5 the option to come back into their new 3equals1 office at Old Paradise Yard in July and was surprised when they all showed up the next day - proving just how important the workspace is for some!
It’s important that the workspace you inhabit feels inspiring, too much workspace design comes across perfunctory and fluffy, when ultimately it needs to give you the aesthetic and tools to want to work. There are lots of simple things you can do to boost the mood in your office, including playing with colour. Whilst advisory signposting is helpful for Covid-measures, big yellow warning signs throughout the office can actually cause fear and trigger the wrong response. People want to feel warm, safe and secure, which can be achieved with soft/positive design touches as opposed to ‘DO NOT’ signs.
If we’ve learnt one thing from 2020, it’s that nothing is for certain! We are in an ever-changing landscape and this needs to be reflected in the approach to workspace format. We have recently moved our office to Old Paradise Yard and we love how versatile the space and how easy it’s been to make it feel like home. You need to be ready to make simple changes for the comfort of your staff. If the office space isn’t big enough to house everyone with social distancing in place, there are ways you can reconfigure desks and layout to accommodate. Offering flexi-hours has also worked really well for us - working from home can be stifling and some may not have the equipment they need to meet their full potential (not to mention expensive to provide). Being around people can be uplifting, inspiring and is important for wellbeing in general.
3. Be Human
Designers now have a social responsibility; it goes beyond the job description to place psychology and culture at the heart of projects. To do the best job, I have to start with the people that work there and really get inside the business to understand what is best for the layout and design details. It may sound obvious but treating employees like humans can go a long way! The more coordination and communication you can have with your team, the closer you are to providing an effective place to work from. If you can keep an open dialogue of what they want and need to do the job in-hand, you can only hope they have what they need to feel empowered.
4. Material Technology
Rather than rushing and investing in big, ugly, ineffective acrylic screens, do your research about materials. We have recently worked with a material scientist in order to offer our clients the best advice when it comes to material use. We found that cleaning is the most important factor in mitigating the spread of viral infection through surfaces. Specifying materials that make cleaning easier and more effective is a key design consideration. You are best using materials that are resistant to common and aggressive cleaning chemicals and that promote hygienic cleaning. Some of the best materials for this include: aluminium, stainless steel, glazed ceramic, sintered stone and rubber.
We can learn from one another all the time and contact-time is key. If it’s not possible to do the usual social activities, ensure that you are providing much needed perks that are safe. Anything from PT sessions outside, park drinks and regular check-ins can really boost people’s moods and help your team feel connected. We love being part of a community at Old Paradise Yard and the feeling you get from supporting one another is very uplifting.
19th August, 2020