In case you didn't know, the other part of my day job is designing spaces where people can thrive. My passion is to help clients create workplaces where their people feel at home, to ensure they reach their full potential.
My team at COMUNiTI and I were recently recognised by the Design Institute of Australia for a workplace we completed for the team at Davidson. It allowed us to take stock and understand why this workplace was such a success. We realised that it goes right to the heart of how this came about; how the purpose, values and behaviours of this organisation informed the process. What Davidson required the design of the space to achieve, informing the employee experience and providing cues for behaviour, encouraging top talent and cultural alignment.
Here’s how we transformed a brief for a functional workplace into an award-winning space ideal for collaboration, connection and experience.
For the first time in their 30-year history, Davidson was investing in creating a purpose-built space they could call their own. The brief was a simple one; to create a workplace that was authentic to them, that optimised the potential of their people and created an amazing employee experience.
Doing justice to this brief required some deep diving to get to the very heart of what the values of the organisation were; what they meant to the team and the founder, and how this could be weaved through the fabric of design.
WHY DO BRANDS NEED PURPOSE?
Purpose is not just for the social enterprise or the not-for-profit. The values and purpose of an organisation inform everything from the top down. Purpose informs your brand. It’s important to remember when we talk about brand, we aren’t referring to your logo, feature colours or words on the wall; we are talking about how you want people to feel when they do business with you – the experience you are providing for both clients and employees. Brand leads culture. When the brand experience is infused in to the very fabric of the environment, it influences and leads the culture of an organisation, which is radiated out through the actions of your people. This culture in turn defines the what your organisation values and holds dear. These values are the guideposts that will help you attract and retain top talent, make decisions, and form the kinds of behaviours that reinforce how you want your organisation and people to operate.
Like many of our projects we began with our signature Workplace Dynamics Blueprint, a comprehensive strategic process, enabling us to engage with business at a deeper level to understand the essence of what it meant to be part of Davidson.Through this, we uncovered the pillars of their culture, values and passion for people and helped them communicate this through every element of the workplace. Our unique process added enormous value to the brief in taking Davidson from “just another office” to creating an environment authentic to them. Their social pillars of Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity and Community are at the heart of this project, brought to life by extracting the essence of the communities they work with.
Davidson have a long-standing friendship with the Yalari mob, a strong stance against domestic violence and a commitment and focus to improve diversity and inclusion.
Coupled with long standing values and the ability to help every person, team and organisation to optimise their potential.
Davidson are a fellow ambassador of enhancing workplaces through Employee Experience.
This is a direct alignment between our respective corporate visions; to create a space that reflected our deep passion to design workplaces people love and to establish a community where people feel connected. This is evident through the way their people show up and engage every day. A visible distinction has been observed in how their people dress; they come to work with pride in themselves and their workplace. Their passion for humanity, wellbeing and making a positive difference in the lives of others and continuing to encourage and promote these behaviours was at the core of the project.
The circular lounge in the café is a direct nod to the Yarning Circles of the Yalari Mob, reflective of the indigenous gathering point. From the outset, this space was intended to reflect the strong alliance with the Yalari Mob and to represent their communication traditions and sense of belonging. The café space was inspired by Campsite 4 to represent their ethos of going that step further, the grit and determination to do whats hard and serve as the heart of the business. It is the first space staff enter and a place for all to celebrate together. The space is not closed and confined, but open and connected to the work environment making it a gathering place that encourages others to join with visibility across the business.
Employee diversity informed the floorplan, with the space ensuring individual preferences for how and where to work were balanced with mental and emotional wellbeing. Incorporating collaborative, communal spaces through to individual phone booths, quiet lounge areas and a wellness room, all personalities and preferences are supported and celebrated.
The layout of the space also reflects this, with quieter activity spaces pulled to the extremities of the workspace, and communal and activated workspaces scattered throughout the work area. We placed a strong focus on emotional wellbeing to ensure the design was giving the best to people and getting the best in return. It is demonstrated by ensuring spaces are enabled for serendipitous interactions that lay the foundations for strong individual and cross-functional employee relationships and that the general work area support tacit learning through peer-to-peer conversation and osmosis. Furniture typologies and spatial design encourage movement throughout the day supporting physical wellbeing and diverse preferences in ways of working.
Embracing the curved nature of the floor plate and offset core, the workspace enables an uninterrupted view, connecting the entire business without barriers. This connectivity enables natural osmosis to occur, engaging the skill and knowledge of the team, learning from one another.
Supported by a variety of team collaboration space styles, quiet booths, lounging areas and phone booths, employees are encouraged to optimize their work performance by engaging with the right space for the task, offering enhanced flexibility.
The materiality embraces the essence of Davidson; honest, authentic and trusted, executed through the sealed concrete, exposed services and signature “D” shape, partnered with their signature navy blue and splash of orange.
The holistic approach to the design of this space reflects that design is not achieved through excellence in a single area, it requires a considered approach from multiple view points to create a balanced and harmonious space that supports the needs of the people who work there. I talk a lot in my podcast about how aligning and defining organisational values is crucial to creating employee experience and attracting the right talent. By incorporating the values that Davidson holds dear and weaving this into the very fabric of design, we helped them to achieve this, providing subtle cues and inspiration for how people should behave and a clear roadmap for attracting like-minded talent.