A ‘How to’ guide for getting your staff involved in the design process and maximising business benefits.
- Are you slightly embarrassed when your customers arrive at your place of work or when colleagues turn up?
- Would you like to impress new clients?
- Would you like a more motivated workforce with pride in their surroundings?
- If your company’s grounds are poorly maintained and dull, is it a reflection on you and your company’s performance?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then read on to find out how to impress your clients with your landscaped areas...
There's plenty of evidence to suggest that most visitors to your premises take notice of and are affected by unkempt landscapes, litter, poorly maintained entrances, difficult parking and poor signage about where to go next.
You and your employees might all be so used to it that you’ve never noticed the environment around you. Surely visitors would be impressed by well designed and maintained grounds with a welcoming entrance and feel that you're a company that takes pride in and cares about all aspects of the workplace. You're there for a long time with reliability, a conscience and a reputation to cultivate.
There are simple ways to improve all of these negative aspects and they might be easier and more economical than you think. Why not involve your people to undertake a simple survey?
Get a small diverse team from work together to role-play and critique the landscape around you. It will only take an extra 30 minutes at lunchtime. One person could be a new customer, one a colleague from the business club, one a new person coming for an interview, one a supplier, a rep and another a member of staff, both male and female. I'm sure you'll think of others appropriate to you.
Some could drive up or ride a bike and others could walk. They should all fill in a simple checklist such as:
- Access: getting to work, moving around and finding your way around
- Use: about what activities and opportunities the place has to offer
- Other people: how the place caters for different needs
- Maintenance: how clean and well maintained the place is
- Environment: ask about lighting, noise and safety
- Design and appearance: the place has been made well and is inspiring
- Community: the role and status of the space and any potential community involvement
- You: how the space makes you feel, i.e. stressed, inspired, motivated, confused
Other questions to ask:
- Do I know where I am going?
- First Impressions?
- Do I feel safe (think of night time too)?
- Is it clean?
- Where should I park?
- Is it well maintained?
- Do I feel welcome and important?
- Is there somewhere I can sit outside and have a break / relax or have food at lunchtime?
Take some photographs of the worst bits and show everyone at work and ask them to comment too. Try and get a final company consensus.
The Output can:
- identify the strengths and weaknesses of a space
- establish what's most important to people
- measure how well the space meets everyone’s needs
- stimulate new ideas for improvements
- compare different people’s views
- track changes in people’s views over time
- bring staff and users together in a structured way to discuss the space.
Then think about:
- How could all of the above be improved?
- Can we do it ourselves or do we need a bit of help or assistance?
- What might it cost in money, time and materials?
- How much do we spend if any, on our external areas?
- Can we do any of it ourselves and who wants to help?
- Do we need a plan?
- Have we any extra money to spend or do we need to manage on what we have now or beg and borrow?
- Can any of these improvements help birds, bees, bats and wildlife?
- Could this be a little competition at work with the best ideas given a prize or some sort of recognition?
- Are there any Business Awards we could enter for our new area?
- Can we keep a timeline of progress and include it in the company newsletter?
There are loads of examples where this has worked before….
Larkhill Community Primary School – Main Entrance
Larkhill Community Primary School – Car Park
Some of it might be improved for the better very quickly and other aspects might take more time. So have a go and see how you get on - preparation is key!