The sound of successful workplace design – can you hear it?

Published October 17th, 2023

“Working here now feels like I’ve quit my day job and have become a trusted consultant. It’s exciting visiting with old friends and experiencing this new world. We’ve been spoilt with such a wide range of ways to work and can’t wait to try them all out.”

~ MKDC Post-Occupancy Survey client feedback, 2023

Taken from our latest post-occupancy survey, this feedback offers great insight into what successful workplace design sounds like.

In this case, the leadership vision was to create a values-led design promoting choice, trust, and respect. To achieve this, we had to create an ultra-flexible workplace strategy, designing spaces that supported all types of work activities, then adapted to suit a diverse range of employees with multifaceted needs.

Establishing the change management program in the early stages enabled everyone to transition to new ways of working. This entailed moving away from dedicated work areas to a ‘clean desk’ non-dedicated strategy with the benefits, training, and support clearly articulated along the way.


These are the kinds of workplaces which positively affect how people feel about their employer, bringing with them a wealth of high-value benefits to the business, including:

  • heightened productivity levels
  • a more connected, respectful internal culture
  • raised buy-in from employees, resulting in higher brand advocacy
  • enhanced sense of wellbeing for everyone
  • more opportunities for collaboration and innovation
  • more trust in you as an employer, which builds transparency and accountability

Creating a clear pathway to workplace design success

As workplace strategy and design leaders in the Perth market for over 30 years, the team at MKDC have a definitive grasp of the nuanced changes within the local workplace market relative to international trends. Currently, many of our established clients are looking for lease renewals, considering relocation, or trying to grapple with unintended workforce growth in situ.

Key questions arise:

  • How much space do we need?
  • What does our new workplace need to do given everything is different now?
  • How will we attract, retain, and sustain the most important resource – our people?

The answer is different for each client — but our framework of managing clients remains the same. This framework, which we refer to as our three pillars, involves developing People, Place and Technology. All three need to be understood from the get-go when we’re considering future workplace options. And to do that, we first need a crystal-clear understanding of the qualitative and quantitative metrics of the workplace. This may include space usage studies, staff surveys, and most importantly, establishing the leadership vision for the organisation’s future.

When MKDC recently attended the WorkTech’23 conference, we discovered that many of the global insights presented are very much aligned with our Perth-based clients and the methodology we employ in the development of our workplace strategies and designs.

Aligned trends included the work-from-home (WFH) policy remaining in place for many organisations. For several of our government, mining, and corporate sector clients, this meant an average of 2-3 days a week working from alternative locations. This is in turn drives workplace usage levels down — some to below 27% in a typical week.

Keeping relationships strong while we re-adapt

Preserving positive cultural connections between co-workers in the face of diminished attendance then must take priority. As it’s unlikely we’ll see a 100% return to the workplace, we need to be mindful not to allow team relationships to fall away and that the reinforcement of silos doesn’t occur.

Only last week the CBA was calling for their workers to return to the office for 50% of the week (Thompson, 20231). Even this was met with resistance by their employees. Meanwhile, Elon Musk has called for office attendance 100% of the time, and the Randwick Council in NSW also did the same. While Musk’s brigades might willingly stride back to Twitter HQ, workers at Randwick Council were quite vocal in expressing their reluctance (Marin-Guzman, 20232).

There’s clearly no settled trend here, and with such mixed opinions and attitudes, it’s simply too early to foretell what will happen. Employers can’t stamp their foot because globally there are vast shortages of good staff to fill positions.

Create an environment that earns the commute

People want face-to-face collaboration and opportunities to be mentored, but this also needs to be met with a physical environment that provides them with benefits they can’t replicate at home.

Companies must continue to be creative to get people back into the office. The starting point is in listening to and investing in their people, especially before new fitouts or leasing needs are being considered.

Then what makes people want to return to their workplace, and possibly even prefer it?

Increasingly, we see organisations focusing on wellness, nourishment, and designated restorative spaces within newly appointed offices. Employers recognise the need to support people to do their best work and maintain work/life balance.

Clear workplace vision and strategy is the essential precursor — defining these will fundamentally answer the bigger questions around the ‘whys’ relating to worker occupancy and longer-term spatial needs.

Reflecting on insights revealed at the WorkTech’23 conference, what’s trending strongly in workplace consultancy is a non-dedicated desk strategy. This usually entails implementing an 80% headcount allocation for work points, with an emphasis on planning multiple shared collaboration spaces, more quality focus space, and TEAMS enabled rooms.

The 80% headcount allocation equates to 20% less floor area, creates a more activated work area with less empty desks, and reduces company lease commitments. There are higher value outcomes with more investment in quality and well-interpreted, higher use spaces, which enrich the workplace experience.

It’s increasingly evident that companies who invest in the preliminary work—involving employees from the outset—are the ones who build loyalty and longevity into their team culture.

In getting answers to the hard questions from the inside first, we are able to set a strong foundation for brilliant, functional, and desirable workplace design to follow.

So listen up, because you can’t put a price on the rewards.

For more information, contact Kath Kusinski on 0419 929 968