The current trends in building design do not generally meet the psychological needs of office tenants. New buildings are all about space efficiency, which may be important, but what about the efficiency of an individual? Where you work impacts how you work. Le Corbusier stated that “a house is a machine for living in,” so it makes sense that offices are machines for working in. Offices should support the people who use them; so to understand how an office should be, we must understand the people who use them. And there are plenty of psychological theories to help us do so!
Personality theories suggest that people can have a mix of extravert and introvert traits and their preferred environment depends on how those traits influence their work.
Motivation theories state that people perform better when they are stimulated but that poor hygiene factors (i.e. overstimulation or distraction) can lead to increased distraction. So the challenge is to create a workplace that enhances interaction but minimizes distraction.
Environmental psychology explores the relationship between people and their physical settings. In regards to workplace design, the arrangement of an office can impact the perceived “feeling” of a workplace, and this “feeling” can affect your level of focus and productivity.
Evolutionary psychology supports that humans are biophilic and have a tendency to be drawn to life and natural environments, so they are most comfortable in spaces that tend to that need.
So what does all of this mean for office design? Design needs to focus on meeting the needs of the individual occupants and organization, rather than on being space efficient. The nature of work is changing, requiring spaces to incite interaction, creativity and innovation, while providing options for concentration and focus. Because your efficiency is most important.
It is time for your office to be an asset supporting your business instead of simply a liability.