Through the eyes of visitor Su Butcher

'Psychological & Physiological Factors in Office Design' Workshop

On October 12, 2017, three passionate presenters and experts in environmental psychology and human physiology will gather at the Smart Workspace Design Summit to share their point of view on the importance of psychological and physiological factors in workplace design.


Su Butcher, Social Strategist in Construction and Non-Executive at the UK BIM Alliance, recently attended the workshop and shares her very positive experience:“Recently I was lucky to attend the practical workshop Psychological & Physiological Factors in Office Design in London. It was heavily oversubscribed, and the response from designers and workplace consultants as well as the wider audience was immense.”


She also had a chance to speak with Tania Barney, one of the presenters and a registered Occupational Therapist with over 25 years’ experience, and her curiosity led her to fruitful answers. We’ve picked some tantalizing snippets from Su’s article – let’s go “behind the scenes”:


What is the purpose of the workshop, and why is it important?

“When you’re talking about workplace design, especially open plan, it’s all well and good to say we should plan for different activities,” says Tania, “but what does it look like in practice? At the end of the day we want to influence design processes for the better.”
All three practitioners have experience with the effects of not considering the impact of the sensory environment. Tania tells me she often has people ‘confess’ to her that they can’t focus in their open-plan office environment and feel this is somehow a personal failing. They then come in early and work late, so they can get their work done. This is not good for well-being nor is it sustainable in the long term. When an office environment is not designed to take account of sensory perception, it can have a considerable damaging effect on those working there, and some more disproportionately than others.
And this isn’t just about acoustics either. The workshop identifies seven senses that need to be considered. Is the visual environment too overwhelming? Are workers distracted by movement when they are trying to concentrate? What is the airflow like? Where is the kitchen? Designers rarely think about all the senses, says Tania; the aesthetic always takes precedence, yet even visual perception is about much more than simple aesthetic appreciation.


Who comes to the workshop and what do attendees like about it?
At first, the workshop was primarily aimed at architects, designers and space planners. However, it has also attracted interest from people outside that group who are interested in issues related to workplace design, including Facilities Managers who are aware of the issue and can influence the briefing of their fit-out designers. The workshop has attracted attendees from some of the top design studios as well. Attendees particularly like the mixture of detailed explanation and hands-on exercises.


Read the whole article from Su.


How great is the importance of human tactile, visual and auditory senses in workplace design? Why do certain personality types and sensory profiles thrive in open-plan offices while others find them over-stimulating? What is your sensory profile and how can this impact your workplace preferences and productivity? And how can a carefully chosen workplace design influence the senses to improve productivity, concentration or teamwork? We invite you to join us for the Psychological & Physiological Factors in Office Design workshop to find out.