There’s a lot to consider when starting the design process, at least 52 different aspects if you want to count. That’s the number that HOK has identified to help clients create better workplaces, using a new deck of workplace strategy cards. (Pictured Above – Project: Cisco Toronto; Photography: Tom Arban)

Rather than suits, though, the cards are divided into broad aspects of the workplace that clients should consider, including Workplace Drivers, Organizational DNA, Human-Centric Approach, Design Elements and Future Workplace. Each card then dives into the strategy or design aspect in more depth.

HOK Workplace Design Card Deck

HOK’s Workplace Design Card Deck is broken up into different categories

I recently had the chance to learn more about the deck with HOK Toronto’s VP, Director of Interiors, Sharon Turner and VP, Consulting, Rob Sannella.

How The Workplace Design Card Deck Is Used:

Every client is different and has different needs that depend on their industry, size, culture and a number of other factors. What the deck allows clients to do is pick out what is most important to them. It’s also a way to present them with a variety of ideas but in an easily digestible manner.

The reality is that in a design there are going to be around 5 priorities note Sharon and Rob.

Starting The Conversation on The Right Foot: A Roadmap

Once issues and topics are addressed the cards don’t serve as a hard and fast rule to follow. Rather, they provide a roadmap. The design team and client can then dive deeper into specific project aspects, but with an idea of where they are going.

The deck is a valuable tool for designers across the firm. It also reinforces the science around workplace design. Cards are backed up with relevant and strong statistics. For example employers are quickly able to grasp the importance of a disengaged workforce as one card calls to light a Gallup report that notes 68% of today’s office workers are disengaged.

Addressing Key Issues


Project: Cisco Toronto; Photography: Tom Arban

Sharon and Rob also highlighted some of the topics they see brought to light most often in the workplace. Certain cards apply more for certain markets but while each organization is different some commonalities have arisen.

These included:

Workplace Drivers: Engagement

Organizational DNA factors: Culture

Human Centric Approach factors: Mobility & Wellbeing

Design Elements: Acoustics & Tech-enablement

Future Workplace Elements: Choice and Variety & Activity Based Working

Many of these pieces fit together and Design Elements or Human Centric Approach factors like Mobility often influence Future Workplace elements like Variety and Activity Based Working.

For example, creating more agile environments means that it’s more important to integrate technology in different ways; cutouts for screens in walls are no longer appropriate, for example, due to the rate of change. At the same time technology has expanded into more spaces in the smart office, which also supports choice in the workplace.

Before We Left We Asked Sharon and Rob For Their Favourite Cards

Sharon’s Card: Rise of the Human Factor

Sharon highlighted how many of the trends in the office have shifted around improving the work experience for employees. The most valuable assets in an office are the employees that occupy it.

Designers have a chance to impact so much more of the work environment now as companies are looking at how the workplace impacts the human factor – from choice in the workplace to activity based working and health and wellness.

Rob’s Card: Engineer Thinking

The card highlights the fact that high density work environments may present challenges around acoustics, temperature, vibration, power and data. It’s something Rob notes that HOK has continually seen influence occupant satisfaction through analysis of their post occupancy surveys.

While these types of features are seen as basics, there’s a big opportunity to address them to create more effective and functional spaces.