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Tétris Women shaping the future of the workplace

by Ofentse Sefolo
Tétris Women shaping the future of the workplace

Workplace strategy is all about holistically understanding the needs of a clients employees and teams, through in depth data collection and immersion into the corporate culture, main drivers for change, then crafting and providing a workspace that’ll help them do their best work in a space that promotes better flow, wellbeing and productivity. People returning to their workspaces after the pandemic however have higher expectations of how their safety and wellbeing is being catered for. Research released by Tétris conducted by their holding company JLL highlights that 37% of people want less dense working environments and 25% do not want to share a desk.*

Balancing the need to create rewarding and engaging environments that invite participation and collaboration while providing quiet spaces for online calls is a part of the challenge of designing the workspace of the future. Answering to peoples real needs including the clients possible drive to scale down the volume of space, partly as an economic necessity yet also a response to less space being required by a flexi-day rotating workforce is a tough design negotiation. As such we have chosen to highlight the personal insights of the Tétris Design and Build workplace strategy and space planning team who are tasked with creating the workspaces of the future to see what motivates them in this very important role.

*Workers Performance Barometer May 2021, JLL. A benchmark research survey done annually to provide workforce insights on workspaces.

Zama Zaca
Head of Business Development

What is Workplace Strategy and Design?
Spatial Design is more than space planning & aesthetics. Workplace Strategy & Design involves a depth of thinking that considers the emotions evoked by the aesthetic. The sense of wellbeing that is established by the textures, lighting & airflow. The elevation of productivity that is enabled by ergonomics, acoustics, technology. The cross pollination that is dispensed by colleagues colliding in various communal spaces. The sense of belonging that is harvested by brand presence, corporate culture and is crucial in creating a healthy workforce.

What makes it rewarding as a profession for you?
Engaging my clients to understand their current problems & offering them a tailored solution.

What surprises you about this role in the industry?
Dealing with people means there is no single approach or predictable outcome.

Can you share one moment, a story or insight of a great moment on the job for you?
A smile on a client’s face after a pitch is priceless. The time, resources, anxiety leading up to any pitch can only be rewarded by a client’s response of satisfaction.

If you could go back and give the person you were when you graduated some advice – what would it be?
Relax and enjoy the ride.

Caryn Dos Santos
Workplace designer and space planner.

What makes it rewarding as a profession for you?
Meeting with a client and encapsulating their vision for their project and the process of discovery along the way is very exciting. The clients satisfaction when moving into their beautiful new space is the cherry on the top.

What surprises you about this role in the industry?
This role is like a roller-coaster ride. The wins bring an enormous feeling of pride and achievement but the losses really hurt. It’s the price we pay of being passionate.

Can you share one moment, a story or insight of a great moment on the job for you?
Meeting with a special new client, that felt like an old friend. Turns out this was the catalyst that changed my career trajectory.

If you could go back and give the person you were when you graduated some advice – what would it be?
Don’t lose your confidence, that spark is gold.

Tango Matoti
Head of Space Planning & Workplace Strategy.

What is Workplace Strategy and Design?
It is about helping and advising organisations to understand how workspaces can support their employees, the types of areas and spaces they should invest in to align the user experience within the workplace design. Ensuring that the workplace is more human in its design approach, that the people who use the space are at the centre and considered first in design and how best to roll this out in the organisation.

What makes it rewarding as a profession for you?
We spend a lot of our time in the office and so I find it rewarding when people’s attitudes are changed by a space and they are excited to go to the office and feel catered for, listened to and are happy in their space.

What surprises you about this role in the industry?
That in certain sectors it is still seen as a nice to have and not a necessity in getting space efficiencies but also increasing productivity because of well thought out and strategised spaces. Or that this role is sometimes downplayed to just a test-fit exercise and not followed through and explored in its entirety.

Can you share one moment, a story or insight of a great moment on the job for you?
It is rewarding for me when clients not only understand but then embrace what we do. Overcoming client hesitations about new ways of working by placing people at the forefront of what we do, making them seen and heard, and then witnessing the resultant change as the client becomes an ally and champion of the project.

If you could go back and give the person you were when you graduated some advice – what would it be?
Learn to trust your gut, stand firm in what you know, don’t second guess yourself. Be more confident because you are good at what you do.

Meera Ajoodha
Workplace designer and space planner.

I have a very exciting task of creating impactful solutions for clients. We work hard to understand the clients needs through site assessments, company research, leadership interviews, focus group interviews and combine these insights with future office, economic and environmental trends to develop tailormade solutions for each project. Setting each project up for future success requires working closely with the design and project management team to ensure that from design to handover the environment created is productive and pleasing.

What makes it rewarding as a profession for you?
The greatest reward comes from being able to change peoples lives through the creation of space. We take space for granted, yet once a person experiences the power of a well designed space, one that is easier and more comfortable to work in and that creates a sense of pride in place there is no going back.

What surprises you about this role in the industry?
There is no ‘one’ solution for all, every client and project is unique and fit-for purpose.

Can you share one moment, a story or insight of a great moment on the job for you?
Driving down Katherine Drive in Sandton and knowing that I played a role in four of the of the best buildings on that road.

If you could go back and give the person you were when you graduated some advice – what would it be?
Do as much of your own research and training in the design field as you can. You have to pave your way to gain experience and if you find yourself boxed in there is wealth of material and options available online that can help.

About Tétris Design x Build

Tétris Design x Build is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JLL, a Fortune 500 company and has 35 offices located in 18 countries. The South African Tétris office was started in 2014 and currently has a team of 58 people including dedicated workplace strategists and designers, concept designers, BIM experts, furniture specialists and project managers working on projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa with dedicated offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

As a leading interior architecture company, Tétris creates vibrant places that inspire people to think better, work better and live better. With a blend of local experience and global best practice Tétris is capable of delivering a full suite of services to address client needs including;
• workplace strategy and design informed by up to date global research and insights
• design and build
• furniture selection (FF& E) with single source procurement from an extensive range (over 400) of global and local furniture brands

For more information, visit www.tetris-db.com.  

Main image: The women at Tétris create vibrant places that inspire people to think better, work better and live better as can be seen at Hogan Lovells in Johannesburg.

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