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What Goes into a Workspace that Works?

by: DORIS Research
The DORIS team conducted an internal assessment to understand what employees wanted in their new space.
The DORIS team conducted an internal assessment to understand what employees wanted in their new space.
DORIS hosted an open house to show off their new space in September.
DORIS hosted an open house to show off their new space in September.
We would love to know too!

In January of 2021, DORIS (Design Oriented Research for Impactful Solutions) knew it was moving offices. Staying true to themselves, DORIS researchers conducted an internal assessment to understand what employees wanted in the new office. Researchers aimed to understand how they could optimize their new space to the satisfaction of everyone. The assessment examined the employees’ experiences in the current space as well as their desires for the future.

Maria Meschi, Lead Project Strategist at DORIS, found the overarching theme which emerged to be “Do More Better.” She went on to discuss how in most cases, “DORIS was doing what we as individuals wanted.” She mentioned examples such as attempts at improving privacy, expanding meeting spaces, and increasing diversity.

“We wanted more and better and wanted to address these concerns when setting up a new space,” Meschi said.

Employees rated the most important factor in their new space as having somewhere to focus; and rated their current focus space as underperforming.

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The solution? DORIS’s new office space features two conference rooms, a phone room, and a large break area – all of which are options for focus or collaboration spaces. Multiple areas in the new office allow for the establishment of behavioral etiquette.

“We discussed having open collaboration at our workstations,” Meschi said. “If you need a quiet space to have Zoom meetings, we have options, and the expectation is that you move to a different space.”

She said these elements fit into the theme of “more and better,” because adding more space facilitates the open collaboration afforded by the old space, with the added privacy of a Zoom room.

Learning on the Job
Beyond discovering what DORIS employees want in their office space, the self-assessment provided a unique learning opportunity.

Meschi said, “This project allowed us to reflect on the process itself and tell client leadership that even if you cannot give people what they’re asking for, it is a positive step just to show that they listened.”

The DORIS assessment revealed a need to improve A/V components for virtual meetings. While employees thought this would be a quick and easy adjustment, the past couple of months have shown this assumption as incorrect. DORIS is still working on optimizing virtual meeting components. While the issue was not ‘solved’, this iteration of the implementation of their findings illustrates how workplace improvements are ongoing; trying and failing is just all part of the process.

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When DORIS applied their own expertise to their new workplace, they embodied and enacted their people-centered mission and culture. In this case, listening to the voices of DORIS’ people, who matter.

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