Sunday, September 20, 2015

Palettes of Choice and Control in School and Workplace Environments

On Thursday I attended Reocon at NBS Commercial Interiors. Featured at the exhibition was a "Think Better" presentation by Katie Pace of Steelcase. She discussed research pertaining to the cognitive challenges presented to workers and students by the bombardment of "distraction" created by technology. She explained that innovative design of workplaces and schools could increase health, happiness and productivity.

Katie concluded that ideally we should present employees or students with choice and control over their working environments. The variety of choices should provide for . . . . 

"A palette of place"

"A palette of posture"

"A palette of presence"

"A palette of privacy "

At Neocon I saw furnishings that created lounge environments suitable for collaboration and individual pods for those seeking to close themselves off from distraction. Foot rests and foot stools were common as were adjustable tables that could be adjusted for sitting or standing. Just as one might have a choice to communicate by face-to-face or by teleconference; one can choose to sit, stand, or recline. Workers or students should be able to work with background noise or in silent, cell-phone free spaces.

My biggest take-away from this presentation was that too many school buildings provide a "one size fits all" approach to learning environments.  In a traditional high school students march hour after hour from one nearly identical set of desks to the next. Those are usually aligned in straight rows, facing the "sage on the stage". Even if they are studio or rehearsal room, their places and furnishing are more or less selected for them. 

At Mercy we have been on the quest for more collaborative spaces and open, flexible working environments. This mimics a trend in business. However, there was evidence at Reocon that he pendulum may now be actually swinging back toward allowing workers greater access to private, distraction-free space.

My visit to Neocon was very thought-provoking.  Below I have shared three of the photos I took for my records.

These Eko furnishings looked perfect for collaboration or a waiting area.

Activity stimulates the brain. Here is a treadmill desk for those who can't make it to the gym.

This was my favorite-- Steelcase calls it a "Brady" (combination of brain & body).
It creates a comfortable private realm in an open area.  The seat was unbelievably comfortable.

No comments:

Blog Archive