Why do workplace transformation projects fail?

By Kim Yong / CBRE | May 31, 2019 7:00 AM SGT
Culture eats strategy for breakfast, as the saying goes, and nowhere is this more apt than in the realm of workplace design. Whether you are doing a refurbishment or building a new office from scratch, design is at the heart of every workplace transformation. But all too often, designers dive into a project without a clear understanding of the organisation’s culture or the problems that need to be solved.
This approach often spells disaster for any workplace transformation. So how can you beat the odds and ensure that your design strategy is a success? Here are four classic mistakes to avoid.
Failing to involve end-users
A common pitfall in workplace design is to get caught up in spreadsheets and statistics on space usage – but this approach fails to capture the complexities of human behaviour. For instance, if you ask clients whether they need more meeting rooms, the answer will most likely be “yes”. A better question to ask would be: “What are you using the meeting rooms for?”
Imagine a company where employees interact much more frequently with external people than with their colleagues. Logically, this should translate into an office with fewer meeting rooms, since most employees are engaging with clients externally. However, since none of the designers working on the new office is aware of this fact, the end-result is a slew of eight-person meeting rooms that no one wants – or even needs – to use. This type of scenario happens more often than you would think in workplace transformation projects.
A common pitfall in workplace design is to get caught up in spreadsheets and statistics on space usage – but this approach fails to capture the complexities of human behaviour
This outcome could have been avoided if the designers had asked employees about their actual work patterns and involved them in the design process from the start. After all, if you don’t take the time to engage with people and understand what is important to them, how can you expect to truly reflect their needs in the workplace?
Choosing aesthetics over functionality
Too often, design is primarily viewed through the prism of aesthetics, with functionality serving as an afterthought. How many times have you seen an open collaboration area that is decked out with low...