Why Human Dynamics Are Key to Workspace Design

With new standards for office culture, creating opportunities for professional relationships to develop and collaboration to occur is more integral than ever.

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The office watercooler days are long gone, and in its place are platforms like Slack, Toggle, and Facebook Messenger. With the rise of our increasingly mobile and connected relationships comes new ways of working. If we take a moment to look around us in any urban city, we’ll see the future of work all over: at our local coffee shop, brimming with entrepreneurs dialing clients, on the sidewalks, where teams are taking their walking status meeting, across open-office spaces, where employees roam freely. With these new standards for office culture, creating opportunities for professional relationships to develop and collaboration to occur is more integral than ever to an organization’s success.

According to a Google For Work Study released in 2016, 73% of employees think their organization would be more successful if they were able to work in a more flexible and collaborative way. As the needs and expectations of employees continue to evolve, companies are building and protecting spaces—virtually and in the office—to help colleagues connect, offer mentorship, and share expertise.

Experts at Herman Miller argue that the next trend in office design is dictated by human dynamics. Joseph White, the global furniture company’s director of workplace strategy, design, and management, told PSFK in its Future of Work report that mindfulness is one of the biggest social evolutions driving change in the way people work. Because of this necessity for performers to be both self-aware and aware of their environment, it is important for designers to consider creating spaces that allow workers to feel both comfortable and at home.

“Understanding human dynamics is very tactical,” White said. “By knowing precise character and work activities you can make smart judgments on where to focus workplace project investment for the greatest business impact.”

In imagining the workplace of the future, PSFK concepted the Nomad Desk App to help HR arrange office seating. The organizational tool manages desk assignments using RFID check-ins so that employees can move locations and update their locations on a shared map, book conference rooms via mobile, and identify hot spots that are both internal and external—at neighboring cafes and coworking spaces. Using the app, companies can encourage innovation through seat roulette, specifying days of the month in which employees are randomly assigned a new working space next to different people.

Since operating on-the-go has become second nature to the modern employee, it’s increasingly important that they feel motivated in their office environments. For organizations, that means placing value in human connection to establish company culture and spark innovation. Yes, the future of work is all around–changing and evolving everyday–but it requires looking up and engaging with the world to fully appreciate its benefits.

Simone Spilka is a consultant at innovation think tank PSFK Labs where she helps organizations concept better products, services, communications and experiences. 

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