It really is all about the people. Of course, products and services need to be innovative and profits are essential, but ultimately it's all about the people getting it all done...from conception, creation, and implementation to accounting, maintenance, and customer service. We need to create environments for them to do what they do better, more effective, and hopefully attain a higher sense of belonging, purpose, and self worth. This boils down to open communication, real conversations, and sharing expectations. It is being authentic, practicing vulnerability and building mutual trust. It's ultimately a human experience...and human capital is at stake. We need to be good stewards.
Our people can make or break us. We must embrace their diverse talents and give them reasons to remain engaged and contributing out of a sense of pride and belonging to the bigger picture...part of the greater good. The alternative is costly turnover, stagnant environments, and diminishing attraction…especially for our youngest generations. This is not all about ping-pong tables and airstream trailer meeting rooms. This is about people with access to the right tools, resources, and spaces...using their talents, connecting with their tribe, feeling safe, and pulling together to find pride and fulfillment. People that return home to their family and communities in an even better state of mind than when they arrived.
Treat your people like family. Include them in the WHY of the company and be transparent with them about the purpose, strategy, challenges, progress, and success. Get them involved in designing their own processes and spaces...listen to and validate their needs and ideas. Give them a strong sense of place identity. This is what builds trust and fosters authenticity within the culture. And, if the people feel they belong, that they are truly an integral part of something bigger than themselves, they will step up, jump in, and give of their best wholehearted selves. They will be present, engaged, and ultimately more healthy and profitable.
How can architects and designers influence any of this? We can ask thoughtful questions, listen intently and with empathy, coach business leaders, educate managers, and bridge the communication gap. Through a fully Inclusive Design process, we can be advocates for people-centered design and rehumanization of the workplace where people can truly thrive.