What about the challenges of designing for the workplace? for a long time workplace design seemed to be driven PRIMARILY by technology but PERHAPS there's been a shift.
Very much so. In fact, it’s more about how can design help people to be healthier and happier? And how can we exploit technology to make our lives better? How can we integrate technology into the design of buildings, of the office, to make our work easier, more creative?
When we go in to design a workplace now, there’s a real partnership not only with corporate real estate, but also with HR and the CTO. One of the things we talk about is how to leverage technology to create a more seamless experience. Let’s say that when I arrive at work my security badge automatically opens the door and immediately my phone tells me that I’m expected on the 4th floor this morning. When I arrive at my desk or office, the lighting adjusts to my needs; the desk height adjusts to my preference and my cappuccino machine makes coffee for me right away. Technology will be able to merge what is now disconnected into something seamless, streamline work processes and simplify tasks—or hand them over to artificial intelligence. At its best, it will be almost invisible.
We recently worked with a Chief of Design and CEO who stated, "We want technology everywhere, but we don’t want to see anything. Don’t make the technology the hero—make the focus on humanity, on the people." It’s an approach that respects the user. And, again, your people will model positive behaviors if you treat them well. Respect generates respect.
We didn’t design it, but there’s an office in Amsterdam, The Edge, which is designed to be responsive to very specific individual demands. Each desk has an air vent so that each person can control the temperature and the air—and it’s a little weird because people are sitting pretty close to each other. So, we have to be thoughtful about what’s possible and what actually needs to be done.