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Towards a people-oriented workplace

In the corporate real estate world we have been loking for years for the best suitable workplace and the most effective working environment. We focus on analyses of types of work and number of FTEs. We try to determine what type of working environment is best suited to an organisation and with which kind of workplaces in which numbers.

What we don’t see so much in our office interior designs, is a method to realise a working environment where people can come into their own and can develop themselves, preferably in such a way that it increases the productivity of the organisation.

How can a knowledge worker thrife?

The hiarchy of needs of a human being are in explained in the Maslow piramyd and for corporate officice real estate this means:

  • Create conditions in which individuals and groups can get the most out of themselves
  • Communicate what the company stands for to all stakeholders and customers

The U.S. Green Building code adds the following to that: “It is the moral responsibility of the corporate real estate industry to deliver a built environment that is conducive to its occupants and promotes their health and well-being rather than providing buildings merely fit for survival.”

What is a people-oriented workplace?

In the context of her final thesis my colleague Christy Smith did research into the factors of real estate and office interiors that affect the health, the well-being and the comfort of office workers. The research concludes that in recent years a great deal of attention was spend on the environmental impact of a building. Both in the design and in the construction and maintenance of buildings, sustainability increasingly gets a prominent place. Buildings like The Edge at the Clyde and the property of Amos Beech Interior Design Consultancy Glasgow are an example.

But according to Christy this attention the focus is going to shift and will do more on the welfare of the residents (in addition to the attention paid to the environment). Also according to the most recent FM market research from FMN and Twynstra Gudde there is a change of focus visible. In 2020, the people-oriented workplace will be in the top 4 of trends, according to the research.

Environmental comfort consists of three layers: physical, functional and psychological.

An office interior that takes into account psychological aspects, integrates design and layout in three aspects, namely: territoriality, privacy and self rule. Think for example about , sttaf involvement in the decor of a room and where a team is allowed to interfere with or to determine the temperature or light setting in the workplace.

The presence of natural light, fresh air and plants in the working environment is also known to have a positive effect. However, how we should respond to the subsequent layers of the hierarchy of needs from Maslow (security, safety and social acceptance) is less familiar territory.

The developments on the above themes are going fast. A building that meets all the needs of the knowledge worker, does not yet exist and will most likely be a mix of spaces in the interior where the different activities (focused work, computer work, etc.) are supported. It is about an office interior that has a mix of public and private areas, and that inspires and stimulates. 

The field of workplacce design is facing a beautiful challenge!

Some corporates are already doing it: