In this conversation between Sandip Agarwal, co-founder, Practice Design and workplace transformation expert Sibani Sarma of Idream, the focus is on neighbourhood design and its impact on the workplace. This is from a series of conversations titled ‘Reframe’, presented by Bristol Furniture, that explores various facets of a shift in organisations thinking towards becoming employee centric from decades of being employer centricity. There are various facets of being employee centric and Reframe, through each episode, captures some of these. Reframe is about looking at employees as the fulcrum of an organisation’s growth.

Agarwal emphasizes the importance of creating employee-centric workplaces and building spaces that foster a sense of community and belonging. The discussion highlights the transition from traditional office designs to more social and collaborative environments.

Agarwal shares his experiences in designing workplaces that promote social interaction and friendship among employees. He mentions experiments such as incorporating plants in the office and assigning individuals to take care of them. This practice not only enhances the office environment but also strengthens the bonds between colleagues. The concept of neighbourhood design is introduced, where spaces are designed to cater to different types of work and provide opportunities for collaboration, focus, and socialization.

The conversation touches upon the significance of belonging to a tribe or community within the workplace. Agarwal explains how people naturally gravitate towards those who share similar work objectives or markers. By creating spaces that encourage collaboration and align with employees’ lives, the sense of belonging and connection is enhanced.

The interview also explores Agarwal’s approach to workplace design, where the soft side of human nature is considered. Understanding the needs and preferences of employees is essential in creating spaces that promote well-being and productivity. Agarwal emphasizes that good workplace design is not only about aesthetics but also about supporting the business process and the individuals involved.

The conversation concludes with the Bristol Question of the Day, which asks Agarwal about the one lesson in workplace design that took him a long time to learn. He reflects on the importance of considering the softer side of human nature and prioritizing employee well-being in the design process. By providing scalable and intimate spaces within the office, employees feel a sense of ownership and perform better in their work.

Overall, the interview highlights the shift towards employee-centric workplaces and the role of neighbourhood design in creating spaces that promote collaboration, belonging, and well-being. The importance of understanding human nature and incorporating it into the design process is emphasized as a key lesson learned in creating successful workplace environments.

Watch the full video of the conversation here