· Features

People-centred design: Case studies

AS Watson Health and Beauty and Medallia both redesigned their offices to suit their employees

AS Watson Health and Beauty

AS Watson Health and Beauty has boosted its staff engagement after moving into a new 500-capacity office in Croydon.

The company, which moved into the new workspace in February 2017, conducted an engagement survey to gauge the impact the new premises had on staff. The survey, completed every two years, showed engagement had increased from 80% to 86%.

Working with interior design company Morgan Lovell, the company installed a more agile way of working with both informal spaces for collaboration and quiet rooms (a key staff preference for the new workspace). The company’s brand needed to resonate throughout, with natural light, vibrant colours and brand-related facilities such as a nail bar.

Interaction between the project team and employees was constant throughout; with representatives from each department communicating information to the other staff, canvassing opinions, and providing feedback to the project team. This involved a group of 15 change champions identified through social network mapping. The champions spoke informally to other workers about the emotional impact of the move, including their fears, concerns and hopes for the new workspace.

“Our new office had three more floors than the previous workspace so people were worried about being split up,” explains Jo Mackie, customer and people director at AS Watson Health and Beauty UK. “However, when we moved in employees said they felt like they had been working there for ages.”


Medallia has just moved into a new office in San Mateo, California. The American software company designed its 700-capacity office building around the idea of a creative space with a non-corporate feel.

Design-wise this focused on the concept of a city with roads and a WiFi-connected outdoor courtyard area. It incorporates libraries for quiet reflection and focus with acoustic panelling and soundproofing carpets. There are also areas for collaboration called touchdown spaces and micro kitchens spread throughout the building where people can interact more informally. The building’s hub is a large kitchen area where staff can come together and be social. Also included is a special room with soft furnishings where new and expectant mothers can relax and enjoy peace and privacy. The space incorporates water-efficient plants and moss walls.

The company’s HR department spent several months interviewing workers and team leaders. Employees were given some autonomy over their workspace through decorating the conference room walls.

Feedback will be recorded on an ongoing basis during and after the move to measure the success of the design and adapt the workspace according to changing employee needs.

Christy Lake, vice-president of people and culture at Medallia, says the aim was to understand the makeup of the workforce and make the space truly suited to them. “Connectivity between our colleagues was very important,” she explains. “Our previous space over-engineered on collaboration, so it was important to get a balance between this and providing staff with private concentration time.”

Further reading

People-perfect workplace design