Purposeful Design: An Introduction

Purposeful design: an introduction

At Frameworks we use ‘purposeful design’ when creating workspace for our clients. What does this mean? How is it useful? Is this another pretentious industry buzzword designed to make office providers feel qualified? Yes, it is.

Our unofficial definition of purposeful design: making deliberate design decisions for the purpose of creating better workspace. These deliberate decisions are underpinned by simple rules we’ve learned over the years. Here are a few of those rules to guide you on your way to purposeful workspace design:

Prioritise the basics

“We have a state-of-the-art video conference room, but slow internet speed…”

Most people just want somewhere comfortable to sit and work. They need a comfortable chair, good wifi, warmth, easy accessibility and enough silence to send emails uninterrupted. They don’t need a space that’s over-engineered or furnished like the Palace of Versailles. Prioritising the basics doesn’t mean neglecting things that will make your workspace special. Instead, it means investing proportionate time and energy into areas where your workforce will appreciate it most. 

Embrace activity-based working

“We use 20% of the office 80% of the time”

Most organisations create workspace to fit the room, instead of moulding the space to fit their requirements as a workforce. Activity-based working forces you to think about how your business likes to work: big meetings or small, private or open, client-facing or internal, relaxed or corporate - these questions will inform the design of your space and give the process a clearer direction.

Focus on small, impactful purchases

“We don’t have the budget to create an impressive and inspiring workspace"

There’s a clear link between premium workspace and large budgets, however there are a exceptions to the rule. Many ultra-expensive investments leave a muted impression (marble lobby areas, tech-enabled booking systems, high-spec desks), whilst others cost relatively little and have a meaningful impact on staff and clients (bean-to-cup coffee, private work areas, nearby breakout space). 

Encourage behaviour through design

“Our staff aren’t using the space in the way we intended”

Employees have a natural tendency to re-arrange furniture and disrupt the perfectly arranged work environment you’ve painstakingly made. Try to pre-empt what could go wrong and design preventative in advance. For example, less comfortable meeting chairs prevent over-use of meeting rooms. Open plan layouts promote a flatter organisational structure. A lack of storage space reduces clutter (surprisingly). 

Purposeful design is something we’ve learned through the experience of building office after office for our clients. It’s rules like this (and dozens more) that enable us to create better office space for less.

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