Innovative Workplace Design Starts By Asking The Right Questions

Innovative Workplace Design Starts By Asking The Right Questions

Catherine Porth August 14, 2019 by Catherine Porth

In the first two articles, we discussed that the dominance of digital screens in our work and private lives is already “here and now” as opposed to being for the “future workplace”. We also explained that most screen-enhanced workspaces can be considered unique because the function of those spaces is truly in the eyes of the beholder, or in this case, the worker.

In this article, we want to share the strategy we take when designing workplace design surveys. Specifically, why we ask the questions that we do and the insights we’re able to capture by taking an indirect questioning approach.

Asking Difficult Questions

When Survature undertakes a new project we face a lot of unknowns. Our foremost challenge is knowing how to ask difficult questions in the best way. Without this, the joke of “there is not always a lot of evidence in evidence-based design” could end up being the reality of a project.

This issue is not solely in workplace design research. Over the past several decades, many innovators have faced the same challenge during their explorations. One of the most notable examples are the NASA engineers and scientists who built the Apollo program that took mankind to the Moon. While there have been many thought-provoking ways to describe this challenge, one of the most succinct ways is:

How do we ask a question that we don't know how to ask?

Only after we know how to ask the question can we begin to chisel away at the problem and build the solution. For workplace design, that question is: How do people really work? – a question we’ve been answering throughout this series.

While traditional questionnaires and focus groups have attempted to ask this question, the fact of the matter is that the answers received are for a considerably simpler question—What are the activities people do at work?

Notice the difference?

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Catherine Porth
Catherine Porth

Catherine is the Director of Business Development at Survature, where she is pioneering ways to commercialize data science for high impact corporate initiatives. She has over 10 years of business development experience working in a broad range of industries including financial services and workplace design. She is passionate about answering questions with data and helping companies make better decisions. Her mission is to serve business leaders in informing strategy and guiding execution. She is also the founder of the Let Her Speak organization. Catherine received her MBA from the University of Tennessee.