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Assessing Workplace Design: Applying Anthropology to Assess an Architecture Firm’s Own Headquarters Design

Description: Corporations, design firms, technology, and furniture companies are rethinking the concept of the ‘workplace’ environment and built ‘office’ in an effort to respond to changing characteristics of the workplace. The following report presents a case study, post-occupancy assessment of an architecture firm’s relocation of their corporate headquarters in Dallas, TX. This ethnographic research transpired from September 2013 to February 2014 and included participant observation, employee interviews, and an office-wide employee survey. Applying a user-centered approach, this study sought to identify and understand: 1) the most and least effective design elements, 2) unanticipated user-generated (“un-designed”) elements, 3) how the workplace operates as an environment and system of design elements, and 4) opportunities for continued improvement of their work environment. This study found that HKS ODC successfully increased access to collaborative spaces by increasing the size (i.e. number of square feet, number of rooms), variety of styles (i.e. enclosed rooms, open work surfaces), and distribution of spaces throughout the office environment. An increase in reported public transit commuting from 6.5% at their previous location to 24% at HKS ODC compares to almost five times the national public transit average (5%) and fifteen times the rate of Texas workers (1.6%) and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area (1.5%). This supports the real estate decision and design intent of the office that relocating near public transit would increase use (nearly six times that of reported use at 1919 McKinney, 6.5%). Additional findings and discussion relate to HKS ODC’s design enabling increased access to natural light and improved air quality, increased cross-sector collaboration, increased connection to downtown Dallas and engagement with the larger Dallas architectural community, as well as the open office environment encouraging education between all employee levels. Discrepancies between designed ‘flexibility’ and work away from the desk are explored along with the role of ...
Date: December 2014
Creator: Ramer, S. Angela
Partner: UNT Libraries