Why Do We Have Buildings?

Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to a presentation by David Lathrop, Director of Applied Research Network at Steelcase. David holds degrees in both psychology and journalism & communication theory and he is part of a team at Steelcase that poses big picture questions such as 'what are the significant workplace trends that are emerging?', etc. which allows his colleagues in R&D to be the first to create products that meet these needs.

The awesome mind and running shoes of David Lathrop. 

The awesome mind and running shoes of David Lathrop. 

I've heard David speak on two prior occasions and find him to be inspirational because of the breadth and depth of his knowledge and his ability to demonstrate connections that many of us are unable to see. He's also an extremely engaging and dynamic speaker who can tailor his presentation to suit the topics that are top of mind to his audience thus making the whole experience more personal. 

 

Lately David and his team have been concerning themselves with the fundamental question - 'Why do we have buildings?' It might sound like a silly question but it could not be more relevant when we are now at a point where many companies and their staff have the technology to enable them to work from anywhere at anytime. Furthermore, facilities and finance executives are constantly looking for ways to reduce real estate costs by simply reducing space. The trend is definitely towards less space per person but could it and should it reach zero and if not why not?

Summarized from Carnegie Mellon Study of Cost Distribution

Summarized from Carnegie Mellon Study of Cost Distribution

David believes that the reason that we have buildings is to 'support human activities that create value' and given that people related costs outweigh building related costs by a factor of 9x, smart employers would be wise to focus on creating space that adds value by fostering a cohesive culture, industry leading innovation and trustworthy reputation among others, because the potential financial rewards far outweigh that which can be achieved simply by a real estate space race to the bottom.

 

So how do employers go about creating this space? David suggests that employers need to apply 'Design thinking' to the problem instead of simply 'design' applied to a solution. We at Space at Work subscribe to the same sentiment and it's one of the key reasons why we were founded. That being said it's always nice to know that there are some really smart people out there that agree.

 

Thanks to David, Rebecca and the Steelcase team for the opportunity to drink from the well.

 

Space at Work are specialists in designing workplaces. We take the time to understand our client's requirements and by asking the right questions and listening to the responses we provide solutions that incorporate best practices, current and emerging trends to create spaces that are agile, adaptive and ready to accept whatever change is around the corner. Please contact us if you'd like to know more.