Designing for focus at work
Employers need open and interactive spaces to encourage collaboration, and such spaces can introduce distractions. Distractions, however, sabotage focus, and focus work is a necessary part of collaborative efforts. How can we solve this conflict? Approach workplace design so that it encourages both collaboration and focus work: Offer employees a variety of workspace options, choice over where, how, and when to best work, and control over workspace features and furnishings. Make the workplace legible and clutter-free so employees won’t waste effort navigating the workplace. Lastly, include “recharge” spaces; focus work takes intense effort, and it requires breaks.
Laptop Computers and Ergonomics
Laptop computers were not originally designed for long-term use. But with all of the advancements made in technology, more and more people are using laptops as their main computers. Working on a laptop can put a user in some awkward postures. That’s why this paper will discuss ergonomic guidelines for setting up a computer workstation when using a laptop computer.
Benching is more than just a piece of office furniture; it’s a method of working. It is most appropriate when designing environments that need to be creative, flexible, adaptable, and energized (Wassenaar, 2011). While benching can be applied in many situations, it is best suited to dynamic, interactive, social work styles and not as effective for a task or a workplace that requires quiet, privacy, confidentiality, or work involving deep concentration.
Compelling Branded Environments in Higher Education
The world of higher education faces many challenges. Ever-increasing tuition is prompting students and their families to take a close look at the value being offered by the schools being considered. Rising costs are compelling many students to consider alternatives to the traditional four-year university, including competitors that offer online education. Even in traditional institutions, emerging technologies and the wider variety of teaching and learning styles demanded by Generation Y students and offered by younger faculty are creating pressure for change in everything from design of pedagogy to student unions. In the midst of all these challenges, the overriding need to attract and retain top students and faculty and to offer a high quality teaching and learning experience has never been greater. While many higher education institutions are investing in new buildings and spaces in a functional response to these challenges, there is a greater opportunity for future success by integrating the brand of the institution throughout campus buildings and interior spaces.
The goal of today’s office ergonomics is focused on fitting the workspace and technology
to the individual. However, the very nature of work is changing. Technology has freed people to work anywhere, and a growing proportion of that work is collaborative and social. But traditional office ergonomics does not address group work or spaces. These emerging space types are being created with no ergonomic guidance. This situation offers a great opportunity to apply ergonomic principles broadly throughout the workplace to create safe and productive settings for both individual and group work—no matter where it may occur.
Why Daylight and Views Matter
As the movie title “A Room with a View” suggests, people seem inherently drawn to an interesting view—natural or otherwise. In fact, they’ll even pay significantly more for it.
In an office setting, the word “view” not only refers to what users see outside the office windows, but also to a user’s perception of an interior space. Everything from the dimensions and materials to options the user sees impacts this interior view; and therefore affects opinions of the space.
The Myth of Multi-Tasking
Task sharing or multi-tasking—switching from focused to unfocused tasks and back—takes time. According to research, it takes approximately 15-20 minutes to recover from every interruption.
Office Etiquette 101
Not so long ago, offices were places where legions of similarly dressed people all arrived at the same time to sit aligned in neat rows and perform nearly identical tasks. At lunchtime, they vacated the workspace for an hour to come back refreshed and ready for an afternoon of highly predictable behavior. It was boring — but at least you knew what to expect from others and how to act.
That was then. This is now: offices are getting smaller and closer together, some people share offices and others don’t have any assigned office, and there are more meeting spaces mixed in with cubicles.
Alternative Workplace Strategies in the Current Economy
Leading organizations have been employing alternative workplace practices (AW) for over two decades—as far back as 1989 when IBM began piloting AW options—and long before the word “Internet” became part of the common lexicon. But for many years they were mainly the practices of a select few companies. They remained mostly experimental and retained their unique identities. Today, however, alternative workplace may be shedding half its name, and becoming simply “workplace” as such practices become mainstreamed in many organizations. This is the conclusion of a study released by New Ways of Working (New WOW), a member organization focused on holistic solutions for new ways of working.
Designing Across Generations
Can Gen-Y multi-task better than other generations?
Today’s workplaces are comprised of members of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists. (Crocker, 2007; Cowell, 2009) Of course, people of multiple generations have always worked together. But unlike past generations—such as the farming families of the Dark Ages—the current workforce’s older and younger members’ life experiences and worldviews have little in common. This has raised the question of whether Gen-Y workers need different workspaces than their older colleagues.