Wayfinding in the Workplace
Over the past decade, workplace environments across a wide swath of industries have changed dramatically. Today’s most successful companies value non-hierarchical relationships and the flexibility to work in a variety of ways and locations. Step inside a modern office design and you see workstations blended with social spaces promoting spontaneous, free-flowing communication. Or, you see a gathering of mobile and teleworking staff hoteling in a flexible space. In these and other modern workplaces, a key to making such spaces relevant for staff is clear wayfinding.
As a visual communications professional tasked with clarifying and communicating the changing nature of workplace environments, it’s my job to draw engaging distinctions between personal areas and social spaces. Very often this means less mono-functional, traditional wayfinding signage (“Conference Room #1”, or “Ms. Smith’s Office”), and a more integrated, graphic-heavy approach.
Picture a specific color scheme or pattern that indicates one team within a company. This theme extends across their home workstation and into the nearest social area, where small impromptu meetings are the norm. Creative applications, such as infographics, photo collages, or illustrated murals, intuitively lead staff and visitors from one area to another. And, to differentiate departments or unique spatial function, these elements also encourage chance encounters and the mixing of staff with diverse skills.
It’s a design approach we practice as well as preach. In DLR Group’s new Los Angeles location experiential graphics will be used to promote the brand, as well as serve as a connector across the multi-floor office. Strategically placed branding will give an individual a strong sense of place upon arrival. Minimalist typography and strong imagery are elements of a wayfinding system that will establish distinct routes throughout the office and lead the user to distinctively branded areas such as the wellness room, employee lounge and the test lab. All this will create an inspiring atmosphere of progressiveness attention toward the user experience.
How does this integrated, graphic focused approach impact the working environment? That is the data and insight we need to continually advance workplace design. It is what’s next and DLR Group is in the midst of a quantitative study to examine the impact of our design on employees in the workplace.