The Workplace is no longer just about the built environment. How it operates, its employee-focused amenities, and robust enabling technologies all contribute to a satisfying, productive experience that’s good for business. While AI and advanced technologies may support business processes, it’s ultimately the human social experience that counts.

The Workplace is Getting Smarter and Smarter

And so are we about its design.

Our integrated design approach to all scales of built space – the hallmark of our practice – also considers facilities operations and technology as vital to the workplace experience. When an office is well-run, and well-connected, its well-designed environment is more satisfying.

The open office planning strategies that we helped introduce to the workplace in the 1990s and 2000s have evolved. The tools we have today — mobile technology, audiovisual connectivity and intelligent cloud-based productivity tools  – have re-positioned activity-based working. Working at your desk and scheduling meetings in conference rooms are not the only ways to work. Today, we plan for various structured and informal spaces for you to work with your colleagues, and a variety of places for you to work alone. Bustling with activity or hushed like the quiet car on a train, multiple choices suit multiple activities.

Planning Today’s Agile Workplace

Activity-Based Working Defined – Activity based working (ABW) is grounded on the idea that no single employee has an assigned workspace. The overall workspace environment provides employees with diverse offerings of activity areas that encourage specific tasks that include learning, focusing, collaborating and socializing.

'Me' vs 'We' Space Diagram

While the trend has been to encourage working remotely, many of our workplace clients are seeing the value of face-to-face contact. We think that there will be a resurgence of the physical office but smaller and with a twist. We see a new cadence for collaboration. It’s not uncommon to have a morning get together, dispersal to accomplish your individual work, and regrouping to assess progress and plan for next steps.

Continuous Improvement – Mockups and Pilot Projects

Businesses make significant investments in their physical and technological environments. We greatly improve the quality of clients’ long-term decisions through pilot projects and mockups that are tested and measured for success.

Workplace design today is one-part business support, one-part technology and one-part creating a healthful, productive and pleasing environment.

An Integrated Design Process

Too often we find that clients compartmentalize HR, facilities and technology operations, leading to a fractured decision-making process for the workplace during design. MGA&D’s architects and interior designers use techniques from the product design side of the practice to bring together disparate corporate departments in face-to-face planning workshops. Enterprise-wide guiding principles become a common filter for divergent interests. Thinking about integrating technology and operating the workplace before you design the physical space improves the result.

Case Studies in Designing the Workplace Experience

MGA&D has been designing forward-thinking workplaces for over 3 decades. We’ve been part of the early conversion of closed to open offices and more recent activity-based work styles enabled by technology.

A National Financial Services Company

A series of workplace transformation projects for a national financial services company underway since 2014 focus on the latest standards for a collaborative workplace, integrating facilities operations and technology with standardized workplace strategies, corporate branding and furniture solutions that support the business’s way of working.

U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters

MGA&D was the design architect that planned the U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The workplace consolidation and transformation project was the first Cabinet-level headquarters built in a quarter century. We organized the base building to maximize connectivity between floors and provide an efficient and environmentally responsible workplace.

NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions

When the NCAA was moving from Kansas City to Indianapolis in 2000, MGA&D planned the transition from siloed departments that paralleled the organization chart to a less hierarchical, more collaborative, activity-based workplace. The move – coupled with environmental branding — caused a positive culture shift for the NCAA.

Walt Disney Company HQ

MGA&D’s mid-80s master plan for the Walt Disney Company’s studio lot in Burbank led to a branded headquarters that successfully used the building’s circulation and public spaces as connectors among diverse departments. The design of the workplace created synergies that helped drive the business forward.

Humana Building

The Humana Building, completed in the mid-1980s, set new standards for democratization of the workplace at that time. The top of the building, usually reserved for executives, is devoted to shared conference center and a public porch overlooking the Ohio River. South-facing sunrooms on every floor devote prime space to employee break rooms. Humana still says that the open office floors are as flexible today as the day they opened.