I was recently invited to speak at an event in Gateshead called Design Means Business, held at the recently opened Northern Design Centre. As ever I was sharing thoughts about designing for work, and as such I was the exception. The other excellent speakers were predominantly looking at either product design or management, as well as the whole issue of brand.
The subject of emotions featured heavily. From Chris Angus of Instinctive Choice who uses science to measure emotions, thereby helping designers gauge user reaction. Through to Michael Pagan of tdg sharing his thoughts about how to build value through emotional engagement. It set me thinking about how important feelings are in the workplace.
I’ve walked into spaces which just feel good, but I’ve been unable to put my finger on why. I understand that design plays a major role in creating great places to work, but so does the culture and especially the management culture. Neil Usher in his recent blog went as far as to suggest workplace design can be more negative than positive. I think the culture of the organisation using the environment is what can make or break the success of great workplace design. I’ve heard culture summarised as ‘the way we do things around here’, which is a simple but concise way of capturing the meaning.
Life is full of emotional engagement and the workplace is no exception. Relationships and leadership are a key part of this, but well designed spaces that people feel a connection with are important as well.
Emotion is described as a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. This is also why a well managed post occupancy evaluation is needed to understand the emotional as well as the practical issues. It’s why workplaces need to be flexible enough to change and adapt. A POE is more than patting yourself on the back after doing a great job, it’s about being prepared to change what you’ve already done to meet the needs and even the emotions of the users.
If you ask questions and then ignore the results, expect things to get even more emotional