Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cities / Healthy Cities

Healthy City Design 2019

The role of creative participatory briefing in strategic workplace design

By Aditya Aachi 25 Nov 2019 0

Increasing employee engagement, wellness and satisfaction are at the top of organisations’ lists of benefits sought during a workplace relocation or retrofit. This talk describes a method of client engagement that involves understanding work cultures and distinct practices, culminating in the creation of a strategic briefing toolkit.

Download the slides for this video presentation


According to the World Green Building Council, salaries account for 80-90 per cent of operational costs of a typical business. Moreover, the British Council for Offices states that productivity gains can be valued at between 30-75 per cent
of annual office rent. Hence, a strategic approach to providing an effective workplace is of paramount importance to businesses.

Generic solutions alone are unlikely to provide the right cultural or operationally practical fit for organisations that may be moving to a drastically different way of working. But how can organisations be sure that activity-based working or a more open office will be the right move?

We believe the answer lies in broad user engagement. Our method of client engagement involves understanding work cultures and distinct practices, culminating in the creation of a strategic briefing toolkit. It uses quantitative and qualitative methods to establish a wider view of how an organisation operates, as well as people’s perceptions and opinions of their workplace.

The method aims to reach the widest possible pool of participants, thereby increasing levels of inclusion and ownership of the transition process. By developing a detailed brief of user requirements for each proposed space, we’re able to establish an overarching strategy based on rigorous functional reasoning.

Using the example of our engagement with investigative journalists and environmental campaigners, Global Witness, we’ll explore two areas of creative briefing that were part of a successful office transition: peer group workshops and creative tasks.

Peer group workshops: We used peer groups to run workshops at different levels of seniority to ensure people were comfortable enough to provide genuine feedback without feeling watched by seniors. We used models to discuss a variety of hypothesised scenarios, allowing participants to show us what might work.

Creative tasks: These can engage participants in a way that uses their own skill set, or with an activity that they feel comfortable with or interested in doing, in order to illicit distinct and personal responses. Campaigners were asked to use a Polaroid camera to investigate their workplace and report headline issues.

Organisations involved