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Work Environment Redesign

What is work environment redesign?

Work environment redesign involves taking a design thinking approach to our workplaces — to ask ourselves, what would the workplace look like if we took accelerating learning and talent development as our primary objective? We have a significant opportunity to apply this to redesigning our work environments, defined as the holistic integration of physical environment, virtual environment, and management systems.

The work environment redesign report

The report contains three sections. First, the opportunities and imperatives section defines the driving factors behind our chosen research topic. Next, design principles for performance improvement provides detailed descriptions and case studies for nine design principles to accelerate talent development. Lastly, implementing work environment redesign discusses how companies can start experimenting with, and eventually scale, the design principles prescribed in this report.

The work environment redesign case studies

We studied more than 75 companies varying in size, maturity, and industry in our quest to find work environments that accelerate learning. Nine of these case studies are accessible through an online interactive tool, which highlights the company in addition to the specific design principles reflected in the case.


Featured insights

  • Work environment redesign
    Results from a recent Deloitte study of more than 75 organizations suggest that the work environment can have a critical impact on employee learning, performance and passion toward work.
  • Case Study: DPR Construction
    Innovative uses of technology and adaptive physical workspaces contribute to DPR Construction's ability to rapidly test and scale new ideas.
  • Case Study: W.L. Gore
    The maker of Gore-Tex fabrics embraces fluid teaming and “dabble time” as ways to spur productivity and encourage innovation.
  • Case Study: SAP
    Through the SAP Community Network, an online platform that attracts over 2 million monthly visitors, SAP draws on a robust network of customers, partners, and thought leaders to help solve problems.
  • Case Study: LiveOps
    LiveOps's distributed workforce uses an internal collaborative forum to enable peer-to-peer learning, while transparency into performance relative to peers creates a healthy sense of competition.
  • Case Study: 37Signals
    Autonomy, connectedness, and a sense of mutual ownership drive performance at 37Signals.
  • Case Study: Zappos
    Internal wikis and blogs, skills-based advancement, and weekly "Zuddles" to garner feedback from peers all figure prominently in Zappos' customer-oriented culture.
  • Case Study: TechShop
    Maker space provider TechShop designs for open innovation by creating a community that encourages "chance" encounters and rapid experimentation.
  • Case Study: Mayo Clinic
    Mayo Clinic supports its culture with social collaboration software and physical innovation spaces to improve performance.
  • Case Study: AT&T
    The AT&T Developer Program uses work environment design principles to accelerate learning, foster collaboration, and reduce time to market.

Related links

  • Workplace redesign: Turning your environment into a productivity machine
    Create a unified strategy.
  • Video: Curating the Talent Experience and Restructuring Work Environments
    In this video blog, Cathy Benko discusses how cultivating talent can help your organization keep up with the changing work environments.
  • Insights for CIOs in the Wall Street Journal
    The opportunity for CIOs to lead efforts to redesign the work environment.
  • How HR leaders can improve worker passion & accelerate learning
    HR Times blog by Tamara Samoylova and Matt Frost.
  • Why rethinking management systems is critical to work environment redesign
    HR Times blog by Emily Selvin and Matt Frost.
  • Unlocking the passion of the explorer
    Why worker passion is critical in times of uncertainty and accelerating change.
  • Work environment redesign
    Redesigning the workplace to physically and virtually improve employee performance.

Dig deeper

  • Center for the Edge
    Learn about the Center and its unique perspectives.
  • Get to know the Center's leaders
    Learn more about John Hagel and John Seely Brown (JSB).

Watch, listen and learn

Cultivating worker passion
John Hagel discusses the importance of a passionate worker.

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