84,171 hours. That's a long time, right?
This is the average amount of time we spend at work - over one third of our lives.
The whir of the air conditioning system. Harsh, unnatural lighting. The smell of re-heated food wafting through the air. Someone nearby on a call, almost shouting. Been in a workplace situation like this? You’re not alone.
This is the stark reality for over 46% of office workers in the UK (Leesman, 2017).
Now consider that co-working and shared workspaces are one of the fastest growing sectors of the business premises and property market. This presents an opportunity to massively improve the design of the workplace environment at scale. And a multisensory design approach should be a key element...
“When the work environment is not stimulating, employees lose focus and creative drive. An environment devoid of sensory stimulation and variability will lead to boredom and passivity.” - Cooper (1968)
There tends to be three key activities and behaviours that need to be given due attention when starting to design a workspace - Collaboration, Creativity and Concentration. We set about exploring this with a research partner – a large multinational pharmaceutical company.
We created a multisensory workplace environment that sought to foster these key activities and behaviours, and rooted the design in scientific research. Here’s just a taste of the insights (most of it is hush-hush of course…)
- Stimulating hues help people feel more alert, allowing for clear decision-making and lively discussions.
- Certain scents have been proven to improve mood and promote social interaction.
- Other aromas make people feel more trusting and more likely to offer help to others.
- The right colour enhances creativity – a room this colour can produce twice as many brainstorming results.
- Being slightly sensorially distracted stimulates creativity – that’s why we often have eureka moments while in the shower or brushing our teeth.
- The type of soundscape, tempo, musical key, volume, etc. can enhance concentration and productivity while performing cognitive tasks.
- Scent can increase alertness and decrease frustration, anxiety and fatigue.
- Certain colours facilitate higher focus and task accuracy.
So the next time you’re working in the office - maybe that's right now – take a pause and consciously look, listen, smell, touch and think about how each element is affecting you.
And think how we can make the environment just a little bit better and improve our productivity in the workplace. It's time for us all to come to our senses.
If a multisensorially designed workspace has peaked your interest and you’d like to know more, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.