In order to cope with constantly changing market conditions, organizations need to be resilient, reinventing and innovating ahead of the market. This requires an organisation to be designed and built using principles from science, humanity and also design, the importance of which has been revealed by a number of scholars (Buchanan, 2001; Romme, 2003; Boland & Collopy, 2004; Junginger, 2009; Barry, 2016). It demands also a group of employees who are highly engaged, who come to work ready not only to generate new ideas, but to find meaning in what they do, to make a difference in the world. In order to achieve this goal, it’s necessary to foster situations to involve employees at personal dimension and to create possibilities and access for individual employees to establish their “personal” relationships with the company in various ways. On one hand, it’s fundamental to form a coherent perception on company’s value and identity from individual employees (Balmer & Bromley, 2001), moreover, in contrast, it’s becoming much necessary but challenging to facilitate and cultivate personal contributes, creative thinking from bottom-up (Kelly & Kelly, 2013, Zurlo, 2019), to the company through building a flat organization.
Studies have demonstrated the role of the workplace in fostering innovative behaviors that require a physical and social environment supporting the development and implementation of new ideas, products, strategies, and systems (Hogan & Coote, 2013). Putting employees in the center of a “human-centred design approach”, workplace is one of the most important touchpoints to consider for creating personal services and experiences at work. Employee engagement is correlated with workplace satisfaction and the possibility to control over where and how to work (self-regulation, territoriality), according to the actual trend where the organization offers a variety of work settings among which choose, based on the task to achieve.
How can workplace encourage individual employees to actively contribute to their company? Can it act at a strategic level and be led by designerly way of thinking? If yes, visually and practically how could it feel and look like?
The workplace is a “lens” to identify interpersonal and relational process (Khazanchi, Sprinkle, Masterson, Tong, 2018). This research will not only treat workspace as a design “artefact”, where environment conditions, layout setting and furniture are physical touchpoints to create a human-centred experience. More importantly, workplace is capable to play a strategic role in motivating and engaging individual employees through shaping behaviours and actions.
This research has been conducted mainly through case study method, which include semi-structured interviews and on-field observations to gather first hand data of selected best practices. Afterwards, several service design research tools, e.g. customer journeys and actor maps, have been used to visually present employees’ working experiences when interacting with companies’ workplace. Two important elements: actions/tasks flow, typologies of relationships and involved space elements were considered as the main focus in data analysis phase.
At the end, the research will uncover insights and practical suggestions to guide managers and companies taking actions to create workplaces that are human-centred and boosting bottom-up creative thinking. At the same time, this research reveals that designerly way influences the environmental climate and the culture of an organization.