homeWelcome, sign in or click here to subscribe.login




print  email to a friend  reprints add to mydjc  

July 29, 2021

Aggregation will drive a new hybrid science space

  • Hospitality has taught us that a space can and should instantaneously transform how you feel.


    Clients in the sciences industry have the power to change the trajectory of human life. To cultivate work environments that enable our sciences clients to develop effective vaccines, life-saving therapies, and innovative products and technologies, we must look beyond traditional conventions of buildings and workspaces as places that optimize performance.

    Buildings and spaces are now about elevating connectivity with people. That connectivity builds trust, which in turn leads to collaboration and elevates culture — all leading to more idea generation. To create a new hybrid sciences workplace that empowers people to connect and collaborate, where innovation can thrive, we must design space with an entirely different mindset — a mindset around aggregation.


    We believe that the future is about blending science with unexpected influences that haven’t been merged before. Imagine what comes about when you infuse a science lab with the collaborative elements of tech workplaces, which are masterful at creating synergies between people. Blend in hospitality’s experiential attributes, which evoke how space makes your people feel, beyond just how it works. The incorporation of brand design, which celebrates who you are and, more importantly, what you believe in. Lastly, storytelling as the glue that fuses all three influences with science to tell the world how your people altered the outlook of human life.

    Photo courtesy of Ai Qing [enlarge]
    The new hybrid sciences office will blend tech workplace, hospitality, brand design and storytelling, as seen at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation JLABS in Shanghai, designed by Gensler.


    Our tech workplace experience taught us that creating a heart within a space — a central hub and destination for connection — is how you form community. It’s where a company’s culture, mission and purpose are felt. The heart should be a synergistic space where people see, meet and build relationships with one another. What if we coupled this idea with the lab, the heart of any research organization? Doing this puts the science on display, allowing your potential recruits and future investors to feel the heart and soul of your organization. It puts your culture, your people and your science together, thereby creating a gravity point for your organization.


    Hospitality has taught us that a space can and should instantaneously transform how you feel. It should put a smile on your face and induce wonderment. We call this “experience,” and it is the caretaker of how we need to think about space moving forward. As we unpack hybrid and work-from-home scenarios, we must also rethink the reasons why someone wants to come into the office.

    In our U.S. Workplace Survey 2020, conducted in the summer and fall of last year, 65% of sciences employees surveyed still said they wanted to return to their workplaces three to five days per week post-COVID — or double the average across all industries. Many sciences workers clearly find value in their workplace. What matters now is how the workplace attracts the other 35%.

    Recall your last memorable trip: remember how it made you feel, how your every need was taken care of, how choice was abundant for you to play, be inside, be outside, be in respite spaces, be in loud spaces, to interact with others, or to be secluded to focus. Tactically, a hospitality-driven experience such as this one is no different than what a science building or workspace can offer. The difference is that it is steeped in experience without feeling too formal or corporate. Today’s science workers are under an immense deal of stress with the significance of the high stakes outcomes. The layering of hospitality into the workplace can ease and calm, creating a sense of serenity to balance their substantial objectives.


    For sciences companies, physical space is a critical tool to tell a story about what you believe in, what you stand for, or how your innovations are changing the world. For many sciences spaces, brand design is an underutilized tool that has been limited to a logo in a lobby or a sign on a building. What if we took a different approach and merged brand design with the physical design of your other spaces?

    As people circulate the space, they learn about your organization from these messages; it infuses purposeful color, vibrancy and inspiration throughout the space. Spaces should not be just about walls and function; they should speak to your people, your guests, your recruits and your partners about why your organization matters.


    Speaking of speaking to your people, let’s talk about storytelling. Sciences workers are highly mission-driven; they are proud of what they do and invent. That’s why they joined your company in the first place. Their discovery today impacts someone’s life tomorrow. When done right, storytelling can convey the gravity of your organization’s transformational mission and purpose that your people deliver upon every day.

    Employee engagement is correlated as a driver of innovation. Celebrating the impact of your people and their work heightens that engagement. What if we utilized the power of storytelling to vocalize the testimonials from the actual people you have helped, or share stories around your progress towards that next cure? Imagine how many stories you could tell. Imagine if those stories were amplified in your space and buildings every day. Imagine how that would make your people feel — not only about why your company matters, but why they matter.

    By leading with human experience and aggregating the best ideas from the tech workplace, hospitality, brand design and storytelling, we can reinvent the traditional workplace paradigm to create a new hybrid science workplace that evolves buildings and spaces for the next generation of researchers and scientists to push the boundaries in a purposeful space.

    Chad Yoshinobu is a principal and global leader of the sciences practice for Gensler.

    Other Stories:

    Email or user name:
    Forgot password? Click here.