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Agile Workplace 2.0: HOK’s #FrameLive Designing for Diversity Virtual Workshop

In a recent Zoom event hosted by Frame, HOK’s Bill Bouchey, Mary Kate Cassidy and Kay Sargent presented their vision for an office interior that acknowledges the full spectrum of employee neurodiversity.

Excerpted from Frame:

Last autumn, Frame and Orgatec challenged today’s leading designers to devise a workplace that was truly agile—one in which workers would have unprecedented control over how their environment looks, feels and functions.

The teams shortlisted during our Frame Awards festival in February have now been invited to take part in a series of #FrameLive virtual workshops where they can road test their concepts against a panel of industry experts.

Our second event featured finalists HOK, the global design, architecture and engineering firm. Their selected panel of experts consisted of Brian Collins, senior manager, change management, real estate & facilities for Microsoft, Jeffrey Saunders, foresight expert and partner at management consultant Behavioural Strategy, and Aiden Walker, programme director of Design Shanghai and Design China.

HOK’s Director of Design Bill Bouchey kicked off the session by arguing that we need to radically expand our perception of inclusivity in office design. “We believe it’s important to leverage the superpowers of the neurodiverse community through design science and raise awareness around this community for the future of workplace environments.”

HOK’s Orgatec proposal builds on the company’s extensive experience in office design at scale and understanding client needs for multinational brands.

The project outlines six spatial modalities that the modern workplace should afford: communing, concentrating, creating, congregating, contemplating and socializing. Crucially, they suggest, these modalities need to be able materialize differently depending on whether the user is hypo or hypersensitive.

“One in eight people we know are considered to be neuro-diverse, but fewer than 50 percent know it,” said HOK’s Senior Interior Designer Mary Kate Cassidy, arguing that most office environments don’t “help these employees show their strengths … it’s basically like putting a saltwater fish into freshwater, it just doesn’t work.”

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