A How-to Guide for Creating a Workplace that Works

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By: Tim Kay, Managing Director, JLL

“You can’t un-bake a cake. The key ingredients have to be in there from the start.”  – Tim Kay, Managing Director, JLL.

Tim Kay, JLL Managing Director, speaks at Hobbs+Black Architects on the importance of workplace design, wellness and technology.

Early this summer I was invited by Hobbs + Black Architects and Interior Environments to speak at an event in Ann Arbor, Michigan highlighting the increasing importance of technology, wellness and design in the workplace. Similar to baking a cake, creating a workplace that aligns with a company’s culture and meets the needs of its employees involves a fine-tuned mixture of essential ingredients.

Together, these ingredients can help create a recipe for workplace success:

1 Cup Examining Your Current Culture

Does your current workplace represent your company’s culture? Does the persona your company portrays through its brand, social media, website and advertising match the physical environment? Culture and brand must align in the workplace so those first impressions gathered by prospective employees are supported by their impression when they visit your office for an interview. If there is a lack of congruency, the likelihood of successfully recruiting that talent is slim.

1 Tsp. Agreement on Future Workplace Design and Functionality

Tim Kay, JLL Managing Director, speaks at Hobbs+Black Architects and Interior Environments.

When navigating this component of the recipe, it’s important to consider what success looks like for your organization. Your office should be viewed as a strategic business tool; a place where new ideas and innovations can flourish. These factors will be evident as your team interacts in a more inspired way.

Creating a great workplace is all about leveraging human capital to achieve great business results. These results can and should be measured as compared to the previous workplace. Key measurements include recruiting success, post-hire cycle reduction, turnover rate reduction, employee satisfaction improvement, ergonomic health claims reduction and, of course, improved business results.


Fun Fact: The numbers “3-30-300” represent $3 for utilities, $30 for rent and $300 per square foot in human capital costs. If you are building the business case for a corporate renovation or relocation, these numbers are your holy grail. There is great connectivity between what an effective, well-designed workplace can do and your employee’s health, well-being, creativity and productivity.   Linking these results to the investments made in a new workplace will surely yield a strong ROI.

1 TBSP Managing Your Managers

When programming your new workspace, make sure you know and understand how your middle managers define work. Do they define it only as heads down looking at their laptops or in a conference room? If you are providing cafés, soft seating niches, quiet rooms and walking paths around your site, will these be viewed by middle managers as strategic business tools or merely employee amenities? If employees are made to feel by their managers that these are amenities and using them is considered goofing off, then the workplace has failed and all the investment will not achieve the intended ROI.

½ Cup Communicating Change

Often times a change management initiative backed by a strong communication plan is necessary to ensure successful workplace implementation and end-user satisfaction. Without good information about the process of moving to a new workplace, your employees will come to their own conclusions and will often times communicate the wrong information.

4 Pinches Integrating Your Workplace Delivery Team Early in the Process

Do not let procurement drive a slow and linear process for engagement of your project team. Hire a project manager who is experienced in delivering corporate workplace environments, as well as an architecture and design firm with a strong workplace resume. Leverage the energy and knowledge of the project team by getting all other key vendors and consultants on board early for the best results. Hire a construction manager/general contractor so cost estimation and design can occur together in real-time. Hire the furniture dealer and manufacturer so you can leverage the many value adds they can bring. Make sure to hire IT, AV and security vendors early on in the process. They add a great deal of tribal knowledge that can greatly impact architectural, design and engineering decisions, as this area is quickly becoming a very large percentage of total spend on a typical workplace project.

A Dash of Fun Throughout the Process

Make the process fun, inclusive and high energy as the impact on everyone involved personally and professionally is profound.

By blending these key ingredients into your next workplace design, you are helping to futureproof your space and ensure that the proper amounts of culture, engagement, collaboration and wellness are achieved to help your employees and organization reach a new level of success.

For further information on how to strategically leverage technology and design in the evolving workplace, refer to JLL’s latest publication, “The Future of Work.”

About the Author

Tim KayTim Kay is Managing Director and Market Leader for Michigan, Ohio and Western, PA. He is responsible for business and team development, resource management and accountability for his area. Connect with Tim on Twitter or LinkedIn

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