The reimagining of workplaces

Robyn Lindsey in conversation about our changing workplaces

As a partner of Geyer - a leading independent interior design practice - Robyn has worked with some of Australia’s leading organisations, including Westpac Group at Inter

national Towers to develop human-centred experiences and environments. She holds an MBA focussing on innovative leadership and strategy for competitive advantage which together with her creative design background brings a unique approach to creating new business opportunities and future focussed outcomes.

Robyn Lindsey Coming from the industrial age to now, reflection on the transformation that has taken place across organisational models and human behaviours at work helps us anticipate where we are heading in the concept of corporate workplace design and its role in supporting working experiences in the future.

Organisations used to be based on processes that generated large organisational models, machine like structures with human cogs striving for efficiencies, where each department and group of people relied on each other transactionally, every day. That meant workplace environments were created around a pyramid hierarchy, with transactional style CEO leadership at the top, down to the people working behind the scenes, where they were rarely acknowledged for the contribution they made to the organisation. They didn’t need to be visible or move – they were anchored to their assigned desk with their fixed phone and left their desk at assigned times of the day.

The next level is evolving, where working activities are enabled though multiple choices of settings, yet we still don’t feel satisfied that our potential is being optimised and we move through and across organisations continually seeking exposure to other people and opportunities - where we seek to engage in elevating experiences, where we need to be part of a highly dynamic and broader community each day. The role of design to create places and experience opportunities for this has never been so broadly profound and critical for human endeavour.

Design as a process of innovating and helping individuals and organisation’s build for the future through crafting experiences and places is exhilarating.

It. From an economics perspective, the opportunity to have teams relocated from head office, either closer to clients, or somewhere that’s a lot more efficient, has been happening for a while. Banks have done that with some of their teams for years.

Robyn Lindsey That’s a great example of mobilisation. And now we’re seeing progressive organisations, outside of the finance world moving their innovation teams, their product development teams, and their sales teams - putting them into environments where they might even be closer to customers themselves, and be able to innovate or iterate much more efficiently. Some organisation’s that can’t re-structure quickly enough to compete with new market entrants or products, select some team to physically move into other environments including  co-working and startup environments, so that they have different conversations and inspirations from diverse interactions within different communities.

It. And shared values often stimulate great innovation and powerful collaborations.

Robyn Lindsey Very much so. The old business model of organisations needing to do everything themselves has changed. First there was an increasing use of consultants responding to a strict brief and expected outcomes. Progressive organisations now have to embrace the need for innovation to stay alive, and accept there may be unknown outcomes to collaborative projects. The brief isn’t predictive, but open to collaborative problem solving. So that sharing of minds and skills across unexpected and unique organisations  can uncover new opportunities. This is increasing exponentially, where great moments of innovation proof - when new, surprising products and services hit the market - is happening daily. This is because of unexpected partnerships.

We can’t solve all challenges alone, but we can by having the right people around us. The power of your own potential, is only realised through the company you keep. The challenge now is for organisations to embrace physical environments that can inspire and support behaviours that feed all the unexpected outcomes it can deliver.

For the full story pick up a copy of the It. publication at Two or Three International Towers.

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