· Features

Creating a people-centred workplace cost-effectively

A practical, beneficial yet unique workspace doesn't have to cost the earth

While companies often make headlines for splashing the cash and installing quirky features such as slides and treehouses, there are some low-cost things you can do to make your workspace work much harder.


  • Plan carefully at the beginning of the project. Changes on paper are easier and cheaper than changes once construction begins.
  • Know what you want to achieve from the process; have clear objectives.


  • Centralise shared resources such as printers and recycling. This will encourage staff to remain active throughout the day and reduce duplicated hardware.
  • Create spaces that have multiple uses. Think of the kitchen table, which has various functions in the home.
  • A designated informal social or cafe area doesn’t have to cost mega bucks. It ideally needs to be near tea- and coffee-making facilities. Such spaces encourage collaboration and connectivity.


  • Teach people how to use their environment better. Most workers don’t realise the benefits of working differently or that they are allowed to do so.
  • Have an environment you can vary constantly rather than going for perfect design. Perfect design costs a lot and therefore tends to be kept for too long.
  • Give one person the job of making the office space work brilliantly and rotate this every three months. Give the role kudos and a small budget to play with. This keeps it fresh and exciting.
  • Have insight. If 80% of the interactions held in your office constitute two or three people get rid of your big meeting rooms. Huddle spaces will be used far more than boardrooms.
  • Encourage staff to personalise the space and make it more human. They will then own it and you will get a much wider variety of stimuli.

Further reading

People-perfect workplace design

People-centred design: Case studies