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March 17, 2021

3 Must-Have Features of Workplace Design Tech for Efficient—and Highly Creative—Teams

At this point in the pandemic, designers are expected to solve the question “what does a future workplace look like?” This is no easy task, and takes superior creative talent and tools to begin to address. 

The core issue? Designers are being asked to solve for tomorrow with tools from yesterday. 

As we rethink our return to the office, it will be essential for teams to approach real estate design from a new angle and with new tools. Designers must continuously align the built environment to culture for better engagement. Project management should be fast; it should free up strategic thinkers. Employee and space data should be incorporated and revisited over time for successful, strategic designs. 

It’s the way of the future. But old design processes and tools leave designers unequipped to make it our reality. 

In this blog, we outline how better workplace design technology helps design teams:

  1. Aggregate and organize spatial data in one place
  2. Work faster with a streamlined design process
  3. Regain focus on what matters — better and more impactful design.

#1: Aggregate and organize spatial data in one place

In order for designers to reduce project inefficiencies and cost in the short term, and enable a long term reality where offices are iteratively re-designed,  design teams — and businesses — need to be set up for success from the start. 

In addition to ideation, designers have traditionally been expected to efficiently project manage the process and consolidate resources like existing floor plans, space standards, furniture standards, playbooks, space programs, seating charts, headcounts,  and growing data on employee needs to rapidly execute a client’s vision. 

These extra tasks can add up; these resources can be spread from the filing cabinets to the cloud. It can be a tedious process to get it all in one system that the whole team can access.

Projects start slow. The compilation effort requires intelligence and labor from design teams to produce— companies end up leveraging teams to do work that could be automated. When items are gathered, they are still not often properly centralized. As a result, the available data isn’t really leveraged for strategic decisions, and teams don’t have time to think beyond the immediate scramble.

3D Global View

Creating a nimble team:

Technology should connect the dots and work with data to present resources in one digital location even before design projects start. 

Robust tools should speed up timelines, plug into previously unavailable data — like datasets on hybrid work needs, for example — and help design teams shift to an iterative process to help businesses think nimbly as they scale.

We need to think about how to deploy automated technology to tackle tedious tasks and free up thinkers to be strategic. This saves costs by reducing project timelines and labor costs. Perhaps more importantly, it generates better, more creative outcomes for people.

#2: Work faster with a streamlined design process

In the traditional approach, designs were difficult to revisit: planning took too long, and office usage data was seldom looked at after designs were completed. 

Design teams haven’t had an opportunity to learn from the performance of a space because we’re only just starting to gather better data using things like motion sensors and employee sentiment surveys. There hasn’t yet been an opportunity to analyze, learn, and evolve plans after looking at what worked for employees, and what didn’t.

Iterating quickly as a team:

Both external design practices and in-house designers should be able to simplify the iterative design process.

As we look ahead to reimagined real estate after the pandemic, businesses will have to cater to a hybrid workforce and adjust space as headcounts and public health standards change.We envision a future where teams  can track everything from early concept design through realization, performance, and habitation. 

Data-informed planning will allow us to grow spaces iteratively and actually identify — not just theorize — what works for inhabitants. It should be easy to make changes based on what we know about human behavior, which makes design effective and rooted in measurable performance.

#3: Regain focus on what matters - better and more impactful design

Designers learn what they can play with over the course of their careers — where they can engage and innovate versus where they’ll meet unchangeable laws or realities. Creative teams work best when they know project constraints: Design requirements shouldn’t be moving targets. 

Many corporate real estate projects are built using a “kit of parts” approach — it’s how design teams creatively manipulate parts like flooring and furniture together that generate unique and inspiring outcomes.  

Unfortunately, disparate project management tools and manual processes make it difficult to understand:

  1. What "parts" teams have at their disposal
  2. Where they can begin to build with and manipulate these parts and
  3. What guidelines or data is essential to keep in mind

This process can take time and mean many designers are less efficient or creatively focused than they could be as they puzzle through these decisions. 

When designers can stop spending precious time and brain power on non-creative decisions like compiling spatial data and other project guidelines, we free up the time for more creative and impactful work.

2. 3D Walk

Enabling team creativity for exceptional designs

It’s essential that teams know what parts, variables, and data they can play with at the start. This means that they don’t waste time —or money — trying to reinvent the wheel with decisions that can be obvious through automation. They can stay in the creative zone and work smarter, be faster and stay focused on true innovation.

A better platform contains all the data and variables at play, plus an inventory of parts and design elements creators can jump into and manipulate. It helps designers evolve more quickly: information that is collected in an intelligent way with clear variables jumpstarts the learning process, eliminating years of learning and suboptimal productivity. 

Better tools allow design teams to leverage their creativity by clearly establishing what the rules and parts at play are. In the rapidly changing world of corporate real estate, it keeps designers focused on doing what they do best: creating spaces that inspire.

Learn how Saltmine unifies real estate portfolios, spaces, and employee needs with one smart platform designed to grow with your business.

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