In an era where flexible workspaces are verging on acrobatic and the debate about one-size-fits-all is all but over, traditional office space is giving way to more inspired and worker-centric design.
The focus is not only on where people work but how they work. And increasingly, designers and architects are being asked to create spaces that blur their traditional sector type in both look and function.
Woods Bagot principal Bronwyn McColl understands this hybridisation well and after almost a decade with Woods Bagot in Brisbane, McColl has relocated to Melbourne to head up the studio’s workplace design team.
Speaking at an industry breakfast last week, McColl forecast what she believes the future holds for workplace design.
“Workplaces of the future are heading towards a transformative collision point between the best part of all sectors,” said McColl. “Sectors are blurring and inspiring one another, and user experience and expectation are increasingly influential to design outcomes.”
An array of factors informs a client briefing – from business strategy and workplace demographics to understanding adaptability and delivery models – meaning workplace projects are far more strategic and aligned with the holistic business strategy than being a simple accommodation brief.
Citing multiple factors that are influencing design considerations, McColl says workplaces are now far more dynamic, with a far greater depth of industry knowledge informing the outcomes.
“Never before have we seen so many generations sharing a workplace. Nor have we previously had the ability to collect and understand the data available in such detail. These factors contribute to making today an exciting point in time, where workplaces are developing into transformational spaces driven by user experience and workplace culture.
“Businesses are far more innovative with the way they engage with their employees and deliver their services. In response, designers have become more knowledgeable about the psychology of space and how to use data collection to meaningfully inform our designs,” McColl said.
In joining Woods Bagot’s Melbourne studio McColl asserts her commitment to continuing the firm’s development of design’s future best and brightest. To lead well, she says, strong communication skills, strategic thinking, calmness and the ability to provide guidance and support are imperative.
“A good leader also needs a genuine passion for what they do, and I live and breathe it every day. I see my own enthusiasm and dedication inspire others.”
Rosina di Maria, Woods Bagot’s workplace design leader (Australia region), describes McColl as an exceptional industry thought and design leader – building exceptional built work through an inclusive and positive whole of project culture.
“Bronwyn’s experience is a tremendous asset and we will see that infuse through the Melbourne studio,” di Maria says.
McColl is already making her mark with the Melbourne workplace interiors team delivering new accommodation for retail, property, government and legal clients.
“It’s the expression of a simple idea. We want people to enjoy coming to work and to become more productive, which also feels more satisfying. When you give people great facilities to work in and share, they take pride in their workplace and there are undoubtedly better outcomes,” says McColl.
“Being able to explore data and design at a more human level is truly exciting. To have a real, positive impact on people’s lives is what inspires me.”