As he approaches his fourth year with us, we catch up with Workplace Consultant, Sam to talk trends, technology and the changing face of teamwork…
What exactly does a Workplace Consultant do?
A typical day involves working with a whole range of different diverse organisations, contractors, project managers and designers on developing spaces to a specific businesses’ requirements. This usually looks like a couple of meetings around Manchester and the North West – depending on the day – and working with our team internally on the designs, schedules and strategy to implement a new project.
Was workspace design something you were always interested in?
I’ve always been interested in design to some extent and how it can influence human behaviour, productivity and health. Coming out of university I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work in a fast-paced environment where no two days are the same. I saw that a graduate assessment day was being held at Penketh Group which looked really interesting so I applied and the rest is history!
What interior design trend are you liking at the moment?
Generally, the focus on wellbeing, both mental and physical is great. As we tend to spend most of our lives in work, it’s interesting to see the different ways in which we can improve/maintain health markers for employees within their organisations by making the office a destination that people WANT to come to, not just HAVE to come to.
A big part of what you do is spotting workplace issues which need solving. What is your plan of attack?
Ideally I like to meet face-to-face with the customer in our Manchester showroom or at their site to discuss their current issues and what could potentially become future struggles. This forms part of our “discovery exercise” where the aim is to uncover all existing problems, learn about the business and their project requirements, before starting to work on implementing the right solutions specific to that customer.
How do you encourage traditionalists to look at workspace design with a fresh perspective?
We tend to focus on the internal culture of the business and if it matches up with the way that their staff need to work to be at their most productive. If there is a clash between the company culture and the physical environment that the staff are in, we try to show how they could achieve factors such as higher productivity, creativity, innovation, engagement and wellbeing by utilising a more modern approach to their office design.
We find that most offices are still designed for linear work and don’t enable the workflow, activities and behaviours required for agile methodologies. Every organisation is at a different point on this scale so it’s important to help them achieve the right dose of ‘modern’ influence in their space.
What are you predicting for the future of commercial interior design?
The advancement of technology will further influence the way that furniture and workspaces are designed. We may to consider integrating these new technologies, such as AR, in future schemes, for example. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and fast-paced, design will have to cater for the new ways in which people are collaborating, socialising, and focusing throughout their working day, as their environment will have to support this effectively.
Traditional, hierarchical structures within organisations in which communication is top-down is beginning to be replaced with a new phase of hyper-collaboration, in which individuals and teams are communicating in different ways than before. This is ultimately redefining teamwork which means that the office environment must be dynamic, supportive of high tech and encourage this constant state of flux in order to support growth.
Any tips for somebody else looking to join the industry?
Attention to detail, a resilient mindset and positive attitude is a great start!