Workstyles: At Your Service Introducing a versatile tool to forecast space and service needs
‘Workstyles’ integrate quantitative and qualitative information about users to enable planners and designers to forecast the variety and scales of user needs with more certainty. This article explains what workstyles are and how to develop and apply them to space and service design projects. The term ‘workstyle’ has been popularised in several disciplines to signal the different ways in which people work. In mass media, there are comparisons between ‘old’ and ‘new’ workstyles, such as the work mentality and tools of Generation X versus Generation Y. In the workplace, workstyles function as employee personas that must be managed and engaged in different ways to optimise the well-being of staff, as well as their performance and growth. And finally, in workplace strategy and design, workstyles quantify the space and service offerings that each user group receives in order to forecast final design needs. WHAT ARE WORKSTYLES?
So, what defines a workstyle and how do they differ from personas? Akin to personas, workstyles are flexible, tangible representations of user groups that capture their key charac90
teristics and needs, and that inform research and ideation: for example, their expectations about their work environment, their technology skills, the amount of time they spend working with others or their motivations for advancing their career. And, like personas, the ‘buckets’ or characteristics to fill for each workstyle can be defined according to the project’s needs. But, unlike typical personas, workstyles go beyond illustrating users’ needs to include quantitative information about how those needs will be met: asking not only what but also how much, for example, of different spaces, services and technologies are required to enable effective work. Workstyles act as building blocks, each with a kit-ofparts to meet that workstyle’s needs. Furthermore, workstyles typically follow the MECE rule – Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive
– so that each potential user or user group can be assigned to a workstyle. DEVELOPING AND APPLYING WORKSTYLES
Workstyles are developed and validated in the research phase and applied during planning through the following workflow: 1. Conduct general research, interviews and/or workshops to understand and broadly define the different types of users and the key dimensions that differentiate them. 2. Survey users along the key dimensions. 3. Analyse survey, interview and/or workshop data to develop workstyles, based on the key dimensions, which should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. At a basic level, this is done by ‘cutting’ the data along one or multiple dimensions following natural breaks in the data. If the future user group is known, they are surveyed in Step 2 and concurrently assigned a workstyle when defined in Step 3. 4. Define the types and quantities of spaces and services (the kit-ofparts) that each workstyle receives, based on research, best practices and/or aspirations.