A couple of years ago, I was offered the position of the senior copywriter in a renowned ad agency. I believed that this very well could be my “dream” job. On my first day at the job, I was given a cramped and dingy cubicle in an office with no natural light. Anyone who has worked in a dingy cubicle will confirm how it makes them feel. Whenever I mentioned that the bad, fluorescent lighting and the isolating ambiance was taking away my concentration, motivation, and productivity, I was ignored.
I decided to stick with a year, instead of risking to appear like a job hopper on my resume. One of the biggest lessons I learned at the ad agency was how external stimuli can impact the way we think and behave, including our productive work habits.
According to Haworth’s research, companies need to provide different spaces to foster innovation at work. Offices tend to promote only one kind of work – they are either, open and collaborative, or they’re highly segmented. Modern workplace design is all about finding the right balance between these two types of spaces.
OPTIMIZING MODERN WORKPLACE DESIGN FOR MAXIMUM PRODUCTIVITY
In a white paper titled Optimizing the Workplace for Innovation: Using brain Science for Smart Design, Haworth’s team looks at how modern workplace design can increase productivity.
In order to facilitate all four stages of cognition, a workplace must be designed to support all of the brain’s neural network. The salience network monitors external and internal stimuli and organizes priorities. The default network forms creative insight particularly when emotions and engagement are low. The executive control network develops innovative ideas in response to focus work.
Focus at work requires a controlled space, with physical barriers that provide refuge from external distractions. Abundant natural light is proven to improve focus, as is having control over lighting and temperature within the building.
Oftentimes, we need time to clear out the head. One cannot expect the brain to give that many ideas while doing routine work. For micro-breaks, companies must design a workplace where individuals can move freely for some time for restoration. The ideal restorative space can be informal with great visuals and objects for inspiration. Visual access to a green outdoor space is also beneficial.
An ideal workplace design is the one which enhances focus, restorative activities, and provides its employees the right tools for knowledge sharing. In addition to creating a workplace which enhances focus on concentration, one must also create a space which fosters creativity and knowledge sharing.
The white paper also advises that movement within the organization should be encouraged. This goes in two ways: one is across internal groups, and the other is with people external to the organization. The movement encourages interactions that foster knowledge sharing and learning with different groups of people.
This is not to say that a great office design is a solution to every problem in your office. But, a smart workplace design can enhance one’s company culture and foster optimal creative performance within the organization. When a great workplace culture and office design are misaligned, things start to get hazy. In order to support all sorts of personality types, it’s best to create a workplace that provides for all of these behaviors and ways of thinking.