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Workplace


A


well-balanced feel


Forget the hype, buzzwords, and trends. The key to designing an effective workspace lies with a concept as old as life itself: balance. Herman Miller explains


w


ith all the mobile and digital technology available, it seems like setting up an office


should be easy. Workspace is no longer dictated by having to access a computer mainframe or unwieldy filing system. Most things that workers need to do their jobs are inside their laptops and smartphones. All people should need are places to sit – either together or alone. But it turns out that what arguably should be simple is anything but. Workers are looking for something more than a desk: they want to spend their days in an inspiring space that contributes to their purpose, facilitates their cognitive and physical well-being, and allows them to concentrate and interact productively with their colleagues. Yet companies that may be considering how to design an up-to-date, effective office space for their employees are confronted with an ever-changing and contradictory range of options. In fact, a brief dip into office design


literature reveals a haphazard view of workers and their needs. Just as one publication extolls the virtues of moving to a “free-address” type of work environment that prioritises mobility,1


another proffers 68 FACILITIES


the stability of assigning workers to cubicles.2


No sooner are you nodding your


head as you read about “the rise of the open office,”3


than you are side-lined with


warnings of an oncoming “privacy crisis.”4 You’ll read about how organisations are making the bold leap from secure desktop computers to laptops, and then another report suggests, “In the year 2020, the largest proportion of Gen X and Gen Y professionals believe a worker’s most important connected device will be a smartphone [or wearable device].”5 In a quest to demonstrate what seems like the latest thinking around people, technology, and workplaces, it becomes clear that there’s not really a needle being moved, but more like a pendulum being swung.


Human-centred design Recent research examined what motivates people at work. The research discovered that workers need a sense of security, belonging, autonomy, achievement, status, and purpose. But can psychological health be achieved in an office environment where there are different types of work that need to be performed by workers with different


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