Ask a CEO what is of highest value to their business and any company worth their sort will tell you it's their people. People are what make a company what they are, the engine to drive the company.. without human resource, an idea stays an idea and never gets explored, marketed, sold and managed, i.e becomes an business.
So then very often how to keep employee's happy and in-turn continuing to work for them and not their competitor is at the top of a managements agenda.
Google set a precedent for wacky office design and Facebook for free food, but what really keeps an employee engaged?
Engagement, autonomy, a sense of belonging, a sense of place, and meaningful connections.
Famed design agency IDEO organise an events schedule that brings together employee's around a certian type of activity, whether that be smoothie making, hula hooping or cookie baking - with the overall aim of creating connections. However.. IDEO's largest difference in their version of events scheduling to any other companies bid for an office social is their focus on participation. Office drinks are a Thursday or Friday evening common place.. these evenings sometimes encourage (drunken) connections but often not meaningful ones. There is a special connection created through working together towards a common goal, this is often felt in the workplace by departments whom work closely together or a project team working together over a particular period of time. But why not extend the act of a common pursuit to extra curricular activities too? This has the potential to enhance connections that often are not organically created through the day-to-day workflow of a companies practice.
This is the concept that Kono Designs quite obviously understood in their pursuit of creating an office place that encouraged this concept of 'engagement through participation'.
Kono's Urban Farm aesthetic is looked after by the employee's, from pruning and deadheading to selecting plants and encouraging their growth. The overall project is successful through it's consideration of 'engagement through participation', however the project is enjoyed through its other design interventions too. The adoption Indoor plant life is important. I allude to this in a past post of mine called 'Green Life', I believe there is no other form of interior adornment that can quite achieve the magic of plant life. There is also a health benefit to Kono's concept in the access employee's have to the fruits of their labour - encouraging a foliage rich diet whilst inside office walls.
Pasona Urban Farm is a unique workplace environment that promotes higher work efficiency, social interaction, future sustainability and engages the wider community of Tokyo by showcasing the benefits and technology of urban agriculture.
New York firm Kono Designs created the urban farm in 2010, in a nine-storey office building in Tokyo to allow employees to grow and harvest their own food at work.
Tomato vines suspended over conference tables and broccoli fields in the reception are part of working life at this Japan office by Kono Designs. All of the food in the office is harvested, prepared and served on-site in the cafeterias - making Pasona's Urban Farm the largest farm-to-table office scheme in Japan. Pasona employees are encourage to maintain and harvest the crops and are supported by a team of agricultural specialists.