How can we design work life better?

06-Jun-2017

​Clerkenwell Design Week is a real cherry for our Trifle. An occasion marked by clever design and interesting people and chats. In this spirit, our long-time client MOO opened their offices for a natter, a glass of fizz, tours and a panel discussion on our favourite subject (and one which we are tirelessly passionate about) how can work space design make people’s working lives better?

Our lovely panel consisted of our very own creative director and founder Emma May Morley, MOO’s lead creative, Matt Avery, MOO’s global head of employee experience, Ellie Collins and renowned speaker and best-selling author on creative thinking and wellbeing, Chris Barez-Brown. 

Hosting was much-revered design writer Katie Tregidden who kicked the panel off with a concerning statistic; forty-six per cent of people don’t feel their work space encourages them to be productive. Sadly not everyone gets that design is all about people, not just concepts or creativity, but wellbeing and function that leads to productivity.
 
However, luckily, MOO’s office was a great case study because this business cares tremendously about the wellbeing of its people. One favourite little example of our is that upon completion of two years at MOO staff receive a felt character doll in their image from Eleni Creative. Framed images of these are exhibited in the middle of the space, quite literally putting people at the centre. We just love it and we loved talking about the project again so we’ve paraphrased our evening’s chat here for anyone that didn’t get to go to enjoy in person...
Katy: What was the background to this project? 
Matt: “We were rapidly expanding and had to move from our fun but chaotic office in Shoreditch. We had this big space to move into to but we really felt it was important to retain the creative vibe of our previous residence, complete with a weird library, random but meaningful objects, breakout areas and nice things.”
 
Katy: What were some of the other main challenges in this particular project?
Emma: “We had a crazy deadline of eight months to turn what was a huge and hideous space into a home suitable for the grown-up MOO. It was important to understand the varying needs of the workforce, so I moved into MOO’s offices for two days a week to observe, talk and plan before we could begin the designs.”
Chris: “office design needs to work not just for different personality types but for different types of activity.”
Emma: “exactly, we can’t just think about the desk, we need to think about all the things people and teams do throughout the day. Two of the most important factors that came through are that people need quiet spaces where they can escape as well as collaborative collision points where they can come together.”
 
Katy: Who brought the project together?
Emma: “The immensely productive collaboration of contractors Peldon Rose, Trifle, project and budget managers CRBE, landlords Derwent and MOO helped transform a challenging space into a fabulous office designed for a vast group of people in a hugely diverse business.
 
Katy: From a HR POV, how does the Moo workforce spend its time and how does the design adapt to different work styles?
Ellie: “being on one floor is beneficial as MOO has a hugely diverse workforce from customer services to designers and it really opened up communication. And, the space truly caters for different needs with some bespoke bits of design such as: tables to test gadgets, quiet spaces for whenever you need to get away; writeable walls everywhere to easily collaborate on projects, and the inspiring multi coloured paper spine sculpture running down the space, made of G . F Smith Colorplan paper, that continually pays back to the brand.”
Katy: how did MOO employees respond to the new space?
Ellie: “it was clear that having them involved in the consultation through work-shops gave them a sense of ownership. The library, for example, contains a series of shelves with ‘objects’ and props of relevance and meaning to individual staff. Some of these were even ‘hijacked’ from desks and alongside plants they fill this communal space with colour and life. A study by Craig Knight identifies that enriched design could increase productivity by 17 per cent, but if you allow staff to contribute to their office design it can lead to a 32 per cent increase in productivity. ”
Matt: “people really can be themselves here. From taking some much-needed time out in the unplugged area to skateboarding down the central spine, the office allows for the flexibility of different personality types and the varying experiences that mark our working day. MOO doesn’t just keep the space to ourselves – we also open it up for tech company meet ups and smaller businesses within the community. It creates a nice vibe and brings a new energy.”
Ellie: “the café as a key hub as it allows people to connect and build relationships in a more natural setting. Every Friday, everyone lunches together and there is the odd G&T in the late afternoon.”
 
Katy: As the designer of the space, what are you most proud of at MOO?
Emma: “Everything (of course)! But particularly the meeting rooms which themed around fonts. ‘Courier’ for example evokes a 1950’s Mad Men style complete with vintage pieces, tobacco scent & Eames chairs. It’s a truly sensory experience – a room we all need in our lives.”

In the Q&A following, an audience member asked Emma how she designed her own work life better? It was a great note to end on as she explained: “we are a people centric design business with a human approach to what we do. I love my team! Businesses – whether there are three or 3000 people – must have an authentic set of values everyone works & lives by. Trifle has a lot of women and mums and flexibility is important. We are living and breathing it, not just saying it.”
 
See you next year Clerkenwell Design Week – we’ll be back!