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Imagining the future of workplace for 10K employees on one site

Bank in Australia 
Nov 2017 - March 2018

Project

Imagining the future of workplace experience

The workplace is becoming less fixed and more flexible — liberating employees to be productive when, where and how they work best. Hence there is more desire to work from anywhere and to balance work and life activities. This project is about creating a future work experience that allows the bank's employees and collaborators to perform at their best in work and in life through technology and flexible ways of working. Our work helped inform the future workplace strategy and areas to further explore through prototyping, experimentation, and validation with the employees.

The challenge

The challenge was to create a future work experience that allows employees to perform at their best in work and life through technology and flexible ways of working. We used human-centred design as a methodology to imagine a seamless experience where 10,000 employees cohabit a single corporate environment across a few adjacent newly constructed office buildings. Our approach involved creating behavioural archetypes, jobs to be done, co-designing, imagining and mapping future state journeys for all the teams cohabiting in the same space.

The target occupancy of 10,000 employees is as big as a town, and architects often are the first to consult for such a complex problem. The design challenge for architects was around how to balance the form and the function. How do you design the indoor and outdoor spaces that people love and use? How do you decide who goes where and what utilities and services each floor need depending on the teams allocated? How do you do it on the budget — when different teams want to customise their own spaces and add something that may be non-standard.

At the time we were brought into the project, the conversations about the space have already progressed with the physical building, room and furniture decisions, rather than the human experience. Conversely, our emphasis was on the employees’ “jobs-to-be-done”, the activities and experiences that we want to create, which seemed like ten steps back, compared to where the project is. Our strategy was to decide what we want the space to do, then start thinking about how to enable that.

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Employee

Experience

We started with our colleagues needs behaviors and emotions

Stakeholder Interviews

Interviewing the senior members of the property and technology teams, to create a complete understanding of workplace design industry, the CBA corporate context surrounding agile ways of working, plus a deep understanding of our client’s strategy, culture, processes, and performance. We have used this information to establish our vision statement.

Observation Safari

We started the future of workplace experience project, exploring the lives of employees, their emotional landscape, routines and challenges, pain points and unmet needs. The design team shadowed 16 different teams while they worked, and observed thousands of interactions amongst our colleagues, collaborators, and people running our support facilities.

 

During our qualitative research, we immersed ourselves across 10 locations and spoke to a large cross-section of teams to get to the heart of our colleagues’ needs, moments of truth, what delights them and what gets in their way. We have completed over 40 in-depth interviews and 20 subject matter expert interviews.

This has helped us get a holistic view of the current state workplace experience from different lenses. To validate and add further depth to our findings, we completed a 10-minute quantitative survey with 1033 of our Sydney-based colleagues. We developed meaningful insights combining quantitative with qualitative data, to increase our confidence. 

We distilled our findings into 3 Strategic Pillars that underpin our colleagues' experience of the current workplace, as well as drive their needs for the future

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Strategic pillars described above are informed by the twenty-six Jobs-to-done (tasks our colleagues are trying to get done), the five Archetypes (behavioural representation of our colleagues) and the seven Opportunity Spaces.

Jobs to be done 

Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework helped us gain a deep understanding of employees’ tasks, activities and intents to perform their day to day jobs. Each “Job” definition focused on employees’ desired outcomes rather than their current pain points. The JTBD framework also helped us to focus on the functional, social and emotional layers that underpin getting their job done — which was a great introduction to ideation sessions. We facilitated co-design sessions with the employees to design the optimum work environment and culture so that they can be their best. 

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JTBD also helped us to ideate and co-design with our colleagues to design the optimum work environment and culture, so they can be their best. Across the 18 ideation sessions, our colleagues created 100s of ideas, and more importantly, we observed similar ideas generated multiple times. We combined the ideas based on similarity, and they evolved into our key concepts.

Behavioural Archetypes

​After analysing 1000s of employee interactions and pain points, we created the six archetypes that present the different employee behaviours, distinct needs, attitudes, and motivations. Using this approach, we showed the overlaps and differences amongst such a diverse and broad workforce. 

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We have also defined their working modes, movement patterns and interaction styles, which help to inform how we design spaces and experiences.

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Co-designing

The second stage focused on using the knowledge gained from the understanding stage to co-create the new experience with our colleagues. This process included workshops, prioritisation and many iterations between the design team and the property team.

Over 90 people participated in 9 ideation sessions to help develop hundreds of ideas. Each key concept reflects these ideas and the key learnings from our research. Key Concepts represent the blue sky thinking of our staff for the future workplace experience.

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The Opportunity Spaces represent our innovation agenda at a high level. We identified each opportunity space based on the jobs-to-be-done and the associated current pain points. Each one points to an area of improvement with relevant key concepts demonstrating the future of the workplace. 

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We focused on not only what our colleagues’ experience is today but imagined what the experience will look like tomorrow, facilitating future state/ ideal scenario mapping activities with our colleagues. 

 

The future state journeys

With the Experience Concepts as guides, this workshop invited a core team of property, interior designers and 40 employees to create a New Customer Journey, moment by moment. Participants were divided into six teams, corresponding to a behavioural archetype. They started by designing the ideal flow for themselves by filling in a blank customer journey canvas with post-its, defining moment names, descriptions, channels and experience attributes.


We created 6 different future journeys unique to each archetype based on their needs, and the jobs they want to achieve. Furthermore, we created a signature journey; presenting a day in the life of an employee. It used storytelling to describe the future workplace experience through a narrated sketch note video (animated drawing). The production period of this animated video was entirely collaborative, bringing the design team and the stakeholders together to prioritise the moments, spaces and concepts that highlight what may go into a future viable service experience. 

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Human-centred design as a methodology proved to be useful in workplace design, moving the focus from rooms, walls and furniture to the experiences we want to create. Through our large focus on empathy, we built the foundations for further prototyping and testing to take place in the following years. Workplace design is indeed new territory for experience and service designers, and a brilliant opportunity for us to start innovating the spaces we work and live in.

Future of workplace

The workplace is becoming less fixed and more flexible - liberating our people to be productive when, where and how they work best. Hence there is more desire to work from anywhere and to balance work and life activities. In the future of the workplace, artificial intelligence bots will plan the days and weeks, ease admin tasks, organise the meetings, and help our people connect and socialise. Increasingly, more work will move to the digital realm and collaboration will take place across remote locations, and different time zones.

 

As more work moves to the digital realm, meeting rooms and other traditional office infrastructure will be less necessary. For those times when face to face interaction is important, the building can provide flexible spaces for our colleagues to gather. For the future of collaboration, interactive work surfaces are perfect, as they keep everything in view and encourage tactile tasks in-situ and remotely.

 

Breaking down walls to bring people together is good, but so are “team spaces”, comfortable couches and movable walls. We also found there is a large demand for privacy and solitude, particularly for tasks that require intense concentration. For example, the new designs could include “isolation rooms,” soundproof phone booths, and even lounges where technology is forbidden.