Quick read: Yes. All physical spaces stimulate behaviours, provoke reactions and feelings and we know that simple ideas can cause powerful changes. We believe that testing new ways of working and using spaces to boost the productivity of organisations is the right path to follow to change behaviours. However, the right model to be implemented is one which takes into account the organisation's expectations for the future of its workspaces, as well as the expectations of its employees. This is Spaces Between Us.
As soon as we enter a new space, we commence a process of recognition: our brain looks for references which help us to define which behaviours we should adopt. If a work room has sofas, cushions, and table football, we know that the behaviour expected of us is different from when we enter an office divided into individual cubicles.
This space recognition process must occur without any effort and unconsciously, without any signs and notices and without being told how to act.
Spaces need to be easy to read.
For example, spaces which are designed for collaborative work must not convey the message that they are silent areas, though they may be calm spaces. This is a cause-effect relationship: spaces are the cause which influences our behaviour. But this cause-effect relationship is not proportional. In other words, it is not necessarily through major changes in spaces that there is a major impact on changes in behaviour. Simple ideas may bring about powerful changes, with a positive impact within organisations.
When we design a space, it is necessary, on the one hand, to define which activities and behaviours the organisation wishes to encourage and, on the other, to identify the needs and expectations of employees so that the final effect is the desired one.
But spaces are not just places that encourage behaviours, they stimulate emotions too. When we design a space, we pay attention to the way in which employees should feel. For instance, when we wish to promote collaborative work, a feeling of safety should exist.
That’s why we should survey the needs, motivations and perceptions of employees, as well as of the activities and behaviours that the organisation wishes to promote. In this way we are able to design and project spaces that promote productivity and well-being.
What do employees need to be more productive? Based on studies, we know that on average employees wish to keep working from home 2 or 3 days a week. Why do employees prefer this hybrid model? If we can answer this question, we can generate solutions so that the current workspaces meet their needs.
And that’s what Spaces Between Us is putting forward: testing new ways of working and using spaces to boost the productivity of organisations. We believe that the right model to be implemented is one which takes into account the organisation's expectations for the future of its workspaces, as well as the expectations of its employees.
However, knowing and managing expectations is a challenge.
After two years during which working from home was permanent, organisations need to work together with their employees to create conditions that promote physical and mental well-being within the “new” workspaces.