Best Practices

Imagine a world where people love coming to work.
Now make it happen.

The Process

WX design phases adapted from IDEO's general design methodology


Gather direct employee feedback to understand the biggest obstacles to productivity in your office.

Ask people on the front lines how they feel about the office environment. Use different methods like surveys and interviews for both qualitative and quantitative data, and observe how they are actually using spaces. Develop insights and frame the problem. You should emerge from this phase with a data-driven list of the top issues to tackle, a specific, measurable definition of project success, and suggested opportunities to investigate.

Keep in Mind

Never assume you know what employees are thinking. Designers are all about leading with the end user’s needs in mind, and you will need real data to get real results.


Generate, develop, and test ideas to solve your problem.

Leverage the problem solving talents of your employees by hosting co-creation workshops. Encouraging the collaboration of people in different departments and from different backgrounds will yield the most creative ideas. Sketch out a rough draft of how the most promising solutions would work, and test them on a limited group for constructive feedback.

Keep in Mind

Instead of looking for ways to cut costs on facilities, reframe your perspective. You are actually identifying opportunities where you can spend responsibly on initiatives that will lead to a return on investment.


Tweak your solution based on employee feedback and send it out into the wild. 

Design is an iterative process, so you will need to continue measuring the performance of your solution, making changes here and there, and none of the changes will be permanent. The workplace needs to be a living and breathing place that constantly evolves in order to keep your business competitive.

Keep in mind

Many companies have found that it’s been especially beneficial to assemble an internal committee of representative employees to help check the pulse of the company and oversee the process.

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success."

Tim Brown / CEO of IDEO

The Essentials

Don't fall behind on these office features that are a priority for employees.
Noise, Temperature, Air Circulation, Wifi

Start with the Basics

According to Leesman’s Next 250k report, noise levels are one of the most common challenges in an office environment, with an average satisfaction of 34%, despite being rated as important to 75% of employees. This evidence is corroborated by Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace, which notes that 75% of employees report hearing frequent noise while working.

Leesman’s data shows that only 30% of employees are satisfied with office temperature control, 40% are satisfied with air quality, and office lighting and wifi are not far behind on the list of high priority features that employers are under delivering on.

Key Action Items

Make it your top priority to ensure that everyone in the office has:

  • Good lighting (200-300 lux with a preference for LED and sunlight)
  • Access to reliable wifi
  • Temperatures that can be comfortably controlled (between 21 and 24 degrees celsius)
  • Adequate air circulation (plus relative humidity between 40% and 70%)
  • Noise control

(Source for specific measurements: The Elemental Workplace by Neil Usher)

Enable Concentrated Work

Optimize Individual Workstations

Gensler’s research findings show that we spend about half of our days doing individual work and 93% of respondents to the Leesman Next 250k study said that individual, focused, desk-based activity was important to their work. However, only 46% agreed that their workplace properly supported this activity. Beyond noise levels, the biggest grievances were lack of good dividers and insufficient space between desks.

In The Elemental Workplace, workplace writer and practitioner Neil Usher recommends allocating between 10 and 15 square meters of space per person  in your overall floor plan to maximize both office efficiency and effectiveness (this excludes things like toilets, stairs and elevators, but includes common and flexible work areas).

Key Action Items

Equip each individual workstation with:

  • Dividers/ noise cancelling headphones, or some other noise and privacy control method
  • An adjustable, ergonomic chair
  • A monitor positioned at eye level 
  • A sit-to-stand desk. (Employees should be trained on proper posture, and use of standing desks. They can also use software such as browser extensions as a reminder to stand up and move around at regular intervals to prevent injury and chronic pain.)
  • Personal storage 


Once these individual stations have been set up for focused work, you’re ready to consider incorporating spaces for other types of activities including collaborative work. But don’t jump ahead until this phase is complete.

Above and Beyond

Now that you've mastered the essentials, how can you differentiate yourself as a leader in WX design?

Copyright 2018 by Alyson McPhee, All Rights Reserved