If, as the venerable Charles Eames has said, “Design is a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose” then, we can say that office programming defines the purpose and also provides the elements for a workplace design. For office environments in particular, this is key because it means that designs are intended to achieve specific business objectives. Office programming is the deliverable from the first phase of the workplace development process where workplace strategies are explored.
The primary consideration for any workplace strategy is the dynamic alignment of an organization’s operational and cultural interests with the physical working environment. There are two overriding and fairly obvious goals: (1) enable peak performance, and (2) reduce costs. But office programming is still an intuitive process driven by judgement calls and leasing cycles, not by key performance indicators and defined success criteria. This means that the relationship between workplace strategy and office programming has not been formally defined. As a result, it’s hard to know reliably which problems have been actually solved by workplace strategy decision making and which have not. One thing we do know, once the workplace strategy phase ends opportunities to correct office programming cost-effectively vanish quickly.