Innovating modern workplace design to attract people to the office with SpaceWorks CEO Lizzi Whaley

In an era where all kinds of designers are offering to provide the most human-centred solution, it is nice to speak with someone who puts people at the heart of workplace design. 

Lizzi Whaley, CEO of Spaceworks and Interior Designer, blends innovation with human considerations. Her journey into design began a little unconventionally. A stint at a paint company exposed her to the world of colour and established her interest in interior design.

Lizzi argues that for a design to be successful, it must be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It’s not just about beautiful spaces; it’s also about sending a message that employees are cared for and valued.  And this leads her to human-centred design—where understanding the emotions and needs of users informs the design process. She places a high value on direct observation.

In her aim to bring a sense of value to people in a workplace, Lizzi will sometimes explore low-cost changes that can make a significant impact. In one office simply installing a hairdryer in the bathroom had a powerful effect, as a response to employees’ needs. This is part of a broader strategy tailored to align with each business’s unique objectives.

Lizzi has adapted her views on evolving workspaces and believes we’ll be in a different place in a years’ time – the picture of what hybrid work means for workplaces is still evolving.

As workplaces become more diverse and strive for sustainability, Lizzi notes that these elements are not mere trends but necessities that are shaping modern office designs. She sees them as integral, both now and in the future.

If you’re intrigued by the role of intelligent, human-centred design in creating not just workspaces, but environments that enrich human experience, then this conversation with Lizzi Whaley will offer both inspiration and practical wisdom.

– Nina

“Good design is actually seamless. It just means that you can do what you needed to do from the space. For certain types of spaces you can elicit a behavior that you want to have happen.” Lizzi Whaley

Key moments

00:01:42 – Lizzi Whaley discusses her unconventional start in design, sparked by her job at a paint company. 

00:03:14 – Lizzi shares her views on failure, considering it a stepping stone to learning and growth.

00:03:52 – She elaborates on her nuanced use of colour in design to influence mood, branding, and behaviour. 

00:05:12 – Highlights the need for functional and aesthetically pleasing interior design. This is how employers can send a message of care and value. 

00:07:22 – We discuss human-centred design, and how understanding users’ needs and feelings informs the most successful design choices. 

00:09:19 – Lizzi stresses the role of direct observation over surveys in gathering genuine insights for workplace design. 

00:10:27 – A case study on low-cost changes, like installing hairdryers, can make employees feel valued. 

00:13:06 – The necessity for tailored design strategies, adjusted to a business’s unique goals. 

00:16:21 – The emotional challenges involved in transitioning from closed to open office spaces. 

00:19:42 – Lizzi’s view on evolving flexible workspaces, now seeing a lack of team connection as a downside. 

00:22:49 – Differentiates between ‘flexibility’ and ‘hybrid working,’ including the value of a more adaptable work environment. 

00:25:10 – Lizzi notes the increasing role of diversity and sustainability in modern office design.

Workplace Makers – the podcast about people building workplaces that attract a crowd

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