The 6 Design Factors That Create An Unforgettable Workspace

Gensler identified six design factors that relate to the quality of experience in a workspace.
  • Well designed spaces aren’t just easy on the eye; they create positive experiences that keep people coming back.
  • According to Gensler, there are six design factors that relate to the quality of experience in any given workspace.
  • The six ingredients are: beauty, novelty, authenticity, clarity, inspiration, and a sense of welcome.

Workplace design today is about creating a great human experience. It’s about identifying and understanding the factors and elements that make people want to come back to a given space.

According to Gensler, “the connection between a great experience and business performance is well documented — multiple studies have connected the overall quality of customer, visitor, or employee experience to a company’s long-term stock performance and growth.”

In fact, a survey conducted by Gensler found that users who reported the space they visited to be extremely well designed, rated their experience nearly twice as high as those who said the space was poorly designed.

In simple words, design matters. Yet, not all design factors are created and graded equally.

Gensler’s survey identified specific design factors that relate to the quality of experience. It identified the factors that create a space that exceeds expectations.

The 6 Design Factors that Matter the Most

“While design is one component of a good experience, when the target is great experiences that exceed expectations, key design factors — beauty, authenticity, inspiration, sense of welcome, and novelty — become critical value-adds.”


According to Gensler, beauty plays a big role particularly in shaping an individual’s first impression. Furthermore, people associate beauty with quality, however companies need to be sure that their spaces and design align well with their overall brand image. Beauty can refer to aesthetics and how visually appealing a space looks, but it can also refer to beautiful sounds (like water or nature) and textures.


Think of novelty as a “wow” moment. It refers to the unexpected and creating a sense of surprise that encourages an emotion and promotes engagement. Gensler has found that people tend to share and recommend spaces that are unique and stand out in some way. However, designers should be careful in introducing novelty into their designs, as it can turn people away when they don’t understand how it works or what its purpose is. Design shouldn’t just be beautiful and unique, it also should fulfill a purpose and have a functionality. Novelty can be incorporated in shapes, patterns, placing, furniture, decorations, etc.

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By authenticity, Gensler means that the built environment should reflect the broader brand and mission behind a company. This means that a company’s branding and space should carefully align with one another and complement each other. If you’re a local business, then you should incorporate and highlight local elements into your design; if you cater to a specific community, then that should be reflected in your space and the story your space tells. For example, if you’re an environmentally driven company, you should incorporate natural elements into your workplace (wood, water, green, light, etc.).


Clarity means that a space is easy to navigate and that people are able to have a seamless experience in all touchpoints. It means that people are able to easily understand a space and how they should interact with it. In order to accomplish this, you need to be clear about the purpose of your space; why will people come, what type of activity/task they will carry out, how long they will typically stay, and what resources they need. Clarity means that individuals should be able to intuitively move throughout the space.


People will come back to places that inspire them, places that motivate them and encourage them to do whatever it is they need to get done. Gensler believes that workplaces need to inspire people to be successful and this can be done by connecting people to nature, exposing them to new or unexpected ideas, or creating spaces that support a wide range of activities. Keep in mind that people can be inspired by smells, shapes, colors, and outside views.

Suggested reading: “Paperworld 2019: How ‘Activating’ a Space Leads to Greater Collaboration

Sense of Welcome

A person’s first impression will be highly influenced by how welcomed a person feels when entering a space. The Gensler survey found that spaces that feel welcoming and support a diverse community of people are consistently rated as better experiences. To create a sense of welcome, consider using warm lighting and water sounds or white noise. Having staff welcome people in the lobby or reception area also helps create a sense of warm welcome, as well as having comfortable seating and incorporating natural elements into the design.

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