Flexible workspaces stimulate creative thinking

By Matt Clarke, LSI Architects
As we emerge from the pandemic and begin to consider how, or even if, we go back to the office, the question we are asking is “what environment do we actually want to return to?

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine, Summer 2021
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LSI Architects: Life Touching Design

As organisations shift towards either purely digital, or hybrid workplaces, and teams require spaces that encourage far greater levels of flexibility, the normal open plan office could quickly become outdated.

Even pre-pandemic, we were seeing an increase in enquiries from clients wanting to achieve a more modern, flexible workplace that embraces agile working methods. Driven by the surge of interest in health and wellbeing and its long-term impact on the built environment, we were undertaking in-depth briefing processes for clients, to help them understand what size and requirements they needed for their new office space. And, as well as helping our clients, this is something we are currently actively considering ourselves.

A collaborative approach to design

As a practice of designers, our approach to design is more about our way of working than a particular ‘in-house’ style, and design excellence invariably stems from good communications. We firmly believe in providing opportunities for everyone working on a project, to enable them to play their part, and more importantly, to encourage an open, collaborative environment and dialogue. Design workshops are an obvious means to achieve this; as well as releasing creative ideas, it also empowers our people to share in the decision making.

Throughout the life of the project, the team will hold a series of ‘design pin-ups’, to review the project. This is a great way for quality to be controlled and to encourage feedback, suggestions and questions to test the rigour in our decision making.

Before we began to work exclusively from home in March 2020, we had already created ‘collaboration spaces’ within each of our four studios, to promote this approach. However, for us, a real positive change that has come from this situation, is that it has created an acceleration in the number of people who have embraced flexible working and technology. This means that it’s entirely possible that going forward, our office environment will need less space to be given to workstations, as people choose to work from home.

So, if our teams no longer necessarily need to be in the office to work, then what will the need to be in the office for? Perhaps this is an opportunity to look at how we can move our office, from not just being somewhere to work, but to a place where we can meet, relax, contemplate, socialise, collaborate, celebrate and maybe even exercise in!

A digital workspace for Aviva

Aviva wanted to create a ‘digital garage’ workspace for circa 75 people, providing a ‘people-centric’ environment that would drive collaboration, innovation and inspire a new culture within the organisation.

The office design concept put forward by LSI Architects, incorporates the principles of biophilic design, an approach that responds to humans’ innate connection to the natural world. By designing to be in tune with humans’ affinity to nature, we can create spaces that are ‘people-centric’, that reduce stress and promote health, wellbeing, productivity and creativity. Break-out areas, with informal seating, are designed to encourage collaboration and enable both excitement and exploration.

Photo of Matt taken by Phil Barnes Photography  

Matt Clarke is Director at LSI Architects heading up digital strategy. For more information: T: 01603 660711 E: norwich@lsiarchitects.co.uk

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Life Touching Design

LSI Architects is an AJ100, award winning architectural practice based in London and Norwich. For more information…

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