The Beauty Inside: how transforming workplaces will define your organization
A beautifully designed, destination-worthy workplace could be the difference between employees returning to the office or working from home forever
Over the last ten months, work has been reduced to a fast internet connection and a laptop. Company culture has been compressed into the boundaries of a Zoom rectangle. These new daily norms and their accompanying uncertainty has left many businesses wondering what the evolution of work – and with it, the workplace – will look like in the future.
Social distancing requirements will likely be with us well into the new year and beyond, so employees will continue to wonder if returning to the office will be worth the extra effort and the underlying risks.
Though employees clearly recognize the benefits of a flexible work-from-home experience, many workers are missing the office environment and the inherent sense of camaraderie and community it provided within their organization.
Most of us now truly understand how efficiently we can perform the functional aspects of our work wherever we are. This new paradigm won’t be easily forgotten, even if vaccines ultimately eliminate the virus and we can return to work safely. Workers are now accustomed to new levels of flexibility and autonomy.
If organizations don’t rethink their workplaces with these new norms and expectations in mind, they’re missing an opportunity to make an enormous “second” impression. Employees dream of returning to a new kind of workplace liberated from the chains of physically-fixed, functional work, and instead acting as an ecosystem of highly designed, beautiful, inspirational, entertaining and culture-rich spaces.
[ Workspace and wellbeing must necessarily go hand in hand like balbek bureau taught us designing Grammarly’s new offices ]
As experience designers, we recognize the inherent power of inspirational beauty and interaction for modern day employees at world-changing organizations. These kinds of spaces create a touchstone that galvanizes company culture, motivates teams, and makes people unbelievably proud to work there.
When Capital One tapped us to create an experience to inspire employees and their guests at their Tysons, Virginia, campus, we set out to create an environment that wows with ever-changing beautiful digital visualizations. By leveraging the company’s internal and external data insights which resonate with their employees, the digital content in the lobby conveys important trends of Capital One’s business.
Animated graphic patterns visualize associates working in collaborative harmony while external industry data depicts their positive customer impact as compositions of evolving natural illustrations.
Similarly, Instagram wanted its new downtown San Francisco office to make a memorable first impression on employees, leadership and partners every day. HUSH designed an experience called Light Forest that engages guests in both visual exploration and creation, translating content from Instagram’s own platform into a three-dimensional audio-visual experience.
And most recently, in Uber’s Mission Bay soon-to-open headquarters, we designed a two story high installation that punctuates Uber’s mission to ignite opportunity through motion. Animated lighting structures and dynamic digital content seamlessly merge to tell moving stories of Uber’s positive impact.
In all three projects, the workplace environments make team members, leadership and visitors proud to return to work, as the space reaffirms the grandeur of their daily pursuits, the quality of their organization, and the importance of their company’s mission.
As we continue to envision what a return to work looks and feels like, we need to return to the purity of a single idea: the power of beauty. A workplace that offers expressive, destination-worthy space that employees can’t possibly find anywhere else, will mark a stark contrast to their everyday work from home environments, or even the most luxe “third places” they may frequent.
If working from home has done anything at all, it’s reduced an employee’s affinity to her organization by stripping it of all qualitative aspects of team experience, culture, and purpose. After many months of working from home in solitude, it’s clear that a return to a beautifully designed environment may be that important spark that reignites workforce motivation and excitement for the path ahead.
[ Working from home with your team is easier with Miro, a virtual whiteboard ]
With some bold design changes prepared for this mass return to work, the new workplace will remind employees of their why. Connecting to a higher purpose has always been the power of architecture, design, and experience – but now one specifically tuned to the new paradigm of a recently remote workforce hungry to align with bigger ideas and ideals.
With many of the other functional aspects of work made virtual and hyper-efficient, there has never been a better moment to think bigger, bolder and more beautiful – and make that all-important “second” impression.