A Conversation With HOK’s Stephy Liu, Senior Interior Designer in Beijing
1. What are some recent trends in workplace strategy, and how do you apply them in your design approach?
The talent shortage in many large countries – including the U.S. and China – challenges organizations to recruit and retain the best people. Creating vibrant offices that provide flexibility and choices for where, when and how work happens is attracting more attention because a single, all-purpose workstation cannot cope with the complexity and unpredictability of today’s work.
For example, our design for a pharmaceutical client’s office creates more “unassigned” or touchdown space and activity-based work space, such as impromptu and formal meeting areas, project rooms, individual work spaces and break areas, in order to meet employees’ mobility and flexibility needs. In addition, lighting and acoustics are vital to maximizing the comfort of a workplace. Enclosed executive offices that block natural light are relocated and replaced with open work space, which visually improves the space while saving energy. Sound masking is sometimes adopted to reduce unwanted noise. The macro-trend here is the growing emphasis on people.
HOK’s design for a pharmaceutical client’s office creates more “unassigned” or touchdown space and activity-based work space in order to meet employees’ mobility and flexibility needs.
2. How have the changing demands of corporate clients changed recently, and how has HOK been able to adapt its service offerings to meet them?
Many global clients have spread their business wings all over the world, especially in Europe and Asia Pacific. They need a team with the capability to create a design for their global workplace that can be adapted to different business territories. HOK can reply seamlessly to these opportunities. We have a strategy team that works with our clients’ headquarters staff to establish global design guidelines. This helps a client carry their central vision to each individual affiliate office. HOK’s regional design and consultant teams then work together to help a client push their vision into every regional office.
Our full workplace planning service covers strategy and branding, the change management process and the design/construction phase through building completion. Several months after a client moves in, there is a follow-up post-occupancy survey that provides a satisfaction report. Some global firms also contract with our on-site services group. With this service, an HOK consultant will work daily in a client’s office to assist with facility management and collect hands-on data from observations and records to be integrated and used to inform a client’s next workplace strategy. I call this process “from evolution to revolution.”
Many of today’s corporate clients need a team with the capability to create a design for their global workplace that can be adapted to different business territories across the world. HOK can reply seamlessly to these opportunities.
3. What about working in China attracted you to return home after your career in New York?
My reason for returning was to help my parents. They are both in their 80s and are beginning to experience health issues. I wanted to be nearby in case they need me. So far, HOK has provided me much flexibility to fulfill this responsibility, for which I am grateful.