July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Wellness has been a hot-button issue in the global arena, percolating into workplace environments on many levels. As the workday gets longer, employees’ health and wellbeing are impacted by their workplace to a greater degree than ever before. To maintain physical and mental wellbeing at work, employers are adding social amenities, food service, fitness facilities, better light and air quality, and organizational changes. The healthier the work environment, the fewer sick leaves will be taken, and the more effective workers will be. As staff is the most costly expense of any company, a healthy work place will save the employer money and create a better work. The new workplace is a live-work space.
One leading technology giant specifies minimum wellness amenities including massage rooms, hydration stations, game rooms, nap pods, meditation rooms, quiet rooms, walking workstations, gyms, lockers/showers, and bike storage. In addition, this employer offers its employees readily available healthy meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared by renowned chefs. Many employees at this company report feeling healthier at work than they do at home. Amenities such as these are popping up at Twitter, YouTube, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, among others.
A technology-based venture capital firm recognizes their firm road cycling team as one of the best ways to catch up with a colleague. Many companies are adopting walking meetings to get employees literally out of the box. The technology industry is creatively going to great lengths to incorporate wellness into the workday.
Findings support up to a 25% percent reduction in absenteeism and sick days when Wellness Programs are put in place. Encouraging health and wellness is a means to enrich the quality and content of the work.
Even bettering the air we breathe has become a top priority for workplace standards and construction. Living walls are popular in many workspaces for their biophilic characteristics. Their metabolic process also delivers oxygen into the space as well as the visual improves human emotion. In fact, LEED has begun to offer points for indoor plantings under “Innovation in Operation and Maintenance credit under LEED for existing buildings 2.0.
The entire building industry has developed an integrated effort in programs like WELL and LEED to ensure a healthy environment from sourcing building materials to the finished space. US Green Building Council has found that “LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.” The latest building program, WELL focuses entirely on “human wellness in the built environment.”
These programs include sustainably harvested materials and low emissions transportation of materials, minimizing the impact of building materials on the environment. Low emitting or low-VOC materials are also targeted for maintaining a healthy indoor air quality for occupants. Buildings utilize automatic sensors for to increase the use of daylighting. Even the construction debris is considered in the air quality of the building.
A sustainably built workplace can decrease sick days, decrease building maintenance cost, and increase energy cost savings.
That’s it for Tech Trends! Next up… FUN at work!
July 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
Work looks different today. The abundance of more affordable technology and high speed networking capabilities has allowed knowledge workers the ability to be productive on laptops, smart phones, tablets, wearables, etc. On these devices, people can research, create presentations, manage correspondence, and conduct data analysis. As Wi-Fi is developing into a standard utility, like water and electricity, people are becoming increasingly mobile.
When laptops and VPNs first became available, many companies offered employees the flexibility to work remotely, reducing commuting and encouraging a positive work-life balance. As the trend strengthened, an unanticipated decline in productivity was experienced. Employees’ work-life balance improved, however, and people now expect to have the same freedom of choice and mobility at work.
In 2013, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, famously issued a “back to the office” policy, demanding that employees either return to the office for work or leave the company. Following her lead, many tech companies now design their workplaces to accommodate work-life balance while at work, offering free food, laundry service, gyms, yoga studios, and even daycare. With more employees at the office, the company will allow for more opportunities to collaborate and innovate.
As offices allow for a greater variety of activities at work, it is inefficient to design a space for each function. Workplace designers must now design for the flexibility to accommodate many functions in each space. Furniture is developed as a tool to enable different behavior – whether it is team gather, ideation, or individual focus. A change in needs can now compel a small furniture change rather than a full renovation.
Policy implementation and playing on the strengths of cultural ‘place’ behavior allow companies to implement behavioral change without forceful policy reform. The name “library” connotes the cultural expectation of a quiet, heads’ down environment and a policy of silence is not needed for hushed voices and muted cell phones in the space. Town halls, cozies, nooks, forums, mingle zones and their respective design layouts implicate behavior and actualize intended policy. In this way, employees can move around within the office to optimize the environment best suited to their work priorities.
As businesses aim to offer productive, task-appropriate workspace, interior architecture has developed into a series of open, semi-enclosed, and closed zones. The workplace develops and responds to its inhabitants as quickly as their behavior evolves. The workplace is constantly iterating.
Flexibility empowers employees and employers to optimize efficiency and productivity. Also, it may just lead to greater health and wellbeing. Please look for this discussion in the next edition of Tech Trends, Health and Wellbeing.
July 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
The connectivity resulting from social media has led to more transparency than ever before. Now that workers can see the inner workings of the companies to which they belong, they are wanting to engage with the founding and innovating processes at those companies. Young people expect the same transparency they experience on social media in all facets of life, including work.
The tech industry has responded by creating a transparent, actionable environment at work to engage employees in the growth and development of the business identity. Now that workers can see how a company is growing its identity, they are compelled to engage.
Engaging in the growth and development of a company’s identity is supported by companies across the Bay Area. Facebook encourages employees to hack the system – pull it apart to see if we can put it back together better. Google has 20% time: employees can spend up to twenty percent of their time to work on whatever project they would like. If the project goes well, it often gets integrated into the company’s offerings. Employees in these scenarios are actively contributing to the identity of the company and are best integrated and engaged in building the brand and value.
The influence of the Millennial generation to advocate for their own participation in business identity has driven other generations, like Boomers, to prioritize the right ‘fit’ at work. To attract today’s recruits, company identity must be fluid, clear, and actionable.
Today’s top technology companies move as quickly as the new recruits they employ. Having a clear brand is no longer about having the right graphic on the wall; it’s about being receptive to change the wall – or the whole space.
photo courtesy of M Moser Associates
While aiming to direct a sense of brand to clients visiting client space, companies are also aiming to direct a sense of brand to employees working in the space every day. The employee zone reinforces the brand’s cultural priorities, business vision, and corporate values in a dynamic, iterative way.
In the early days of tech, interior architecture was a lot about image. Today it’s about action. Large graphics that represent a cultural brand are great, but they are static, which may as well be stagnant in the fast paced economy in which they compete.
For companies like Facebook, that could mean nothing is over done – it’s an open space for employees to collaborate and create. At Google it could mean open space for experimentation or pin-up boards to show each team’s 20% projects to the office.
For any firm looking to engage employees, it could be ad hoc desking to encourage employees to grow ideas together; a wall of faces and places for each employee to share their extracurricular lives at work; an art wall to paint/draw/hack your space however you feel.
Offices which inspire physical action are the trend. Identity is founded on action and social response now more than ever. Slick design and graphics aren’t good enough. People should be able to graphiti the graphics, write on the walls, and reconfigure the furniture.
Architecture can open up space and attitudes for conversation and collaboration about what the company wants to be, and how it will express that to the world.
Identity is composed of a number of characteristics. And as the company develops, so too will its office environment. Designing for flexibility and growth allows space to iterate as quickly as its employees. Please look for this discussion in the next edition of Young Tech: Flexibility and Mobility.
July 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
So much of my journey has been a careful balance between the creative and the analytical portions of our work. How I work, how other people work, and what areas of focus are dynamic and interesting to me, have all compelled me to begin my own brand of design thinking.
Under my now familiar Havana Hyde brand, I will offer workplace and lifestyle strategy. I will strive to build strategic frameworks for clients to achieve their own perfect balance, using data analytics and research, coupled with the creatively infinite.
I look forward to working with you all!