The Eudaimonia Machine

The hours that we clock up at work and the time spent actually doing work are different things. We may get to our office by 8am and not leave until 5.30 but the time in between this that we are being truly productive will be significantly less.

Two recent studies have concluded that the average worker spends less than 60% or their working day being productive and that for some only 2 hours and 53 minutes of an 8-hour workday are spent working.

Couple this with UK productivity reportedly being among the lowest in the developed world, and you can begin to see that we have a national problem. But what if we could use design to change this, to optimise those precious work hours?

Enter the new design concept of the Eudaimonia Machine. “The what?” we hear you say - the Eudaimonia Machine is a precise work space layout based upon Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia, meaning the epitome of human capability. And it’s not quite as complex as it might at first sound.

Eudaimonia describes the highest state of being – a classic example given to illustrate this is that of a kitchen knife: eudaimonia for a knife is being sharp and cutting. If it’s dull or just resting on the counter, it’s not achieving its highest state. And this concept is being applied to people when they are at work and how the environment that they work in can assist in them being fully productive.

In an attempt to reduce the distractions that we all face on a daily basis in the work place, the Eudaimonia Machine design is based on matching spaces to specific tasks and mindsets. It is about putting the “human” at the centre of office design rather than technology. Work spaces are divided into distinct zones, with areas for socialising having furniture you would be more used to seeing in your homes, and spaces where the hard work needs to be accomplished having more traditional office furniture.

Other zones are included as well, such as “well-being” spaces that may have a proliferation of plants, or showering facilities, and libraries full of books that will help staff achieve their potential, but minus technology that can be as distracting as it can helpful.

The ideas behind this design concept are still in their infancy, with a New York store trailing an experimental retail concept that has just opened, and two more projects in the pipeline in the US. Will this design concept take off? We’ll have to watch and see in 2019, but the tenet behind it makes sound architectural and commercial sense.

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