The Science of the Workplace?
We’ve all heard about workplace design, but how about the science of the workplace? There is a general movement towards putting people at the forefront of any new office design, studying organisational behavioural patterns to determine the best layout, all of which comes under the banner of The Science Of The Workplace.
The majority of workspaces are still based on the experience and intuition of architects and designers, with the design proposals taking minimal (in some instances zero) input from the actual workforce who will be utilising the space. Of course, in many instances this still makes for a great office environment, but just imagine how much better the space could be if you take certain human behavioural attributes into consideration prior to drawing up the plans?
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
From as long ago as the 1970s studies proved that distance has a strong influence on who we talk to most frequently in the office. Initially carried out by researchers at MIT, further exploration of the limitations of daily face-to-face contact have come up with some staggering results. Up to 90% of interactions within some companies only take place on the same floor – colleagues who work on the floor above or below you really are out of sight, out of mind.
Why does this matter in office planning?
Whether it be in the working environment, or in any other sphere where groups of people need to reach a collective goal (for example a sports team) the more the “team” work together, the stronger the results.
Take a football team for example; if the players aren’t communicating with each, aren’t learning from each other, aren’t able to rely and trust upon one another the chances are they will lose the match. If you have a workplace where your workforce isn’t in a position to collaborate, share knowledge and engage with each other, you will have a less productive company overall. It becomes nigh on impossible to achieve this if your workforce rarely comes together, so if your office does encompass several floors you need to devise solutions to enable better interaction.
Whilst knowledge from research of the science of the workplace could be used to inform, improve and enhance design, in practice, this is still rarely the case. There is a definitive shift towards the wellbeing of the workforce and here at 20six we see a crucial place for organisational research and the data collated from it in the planning and designing of new workspaces and offices.