5 factors shaping The New Technical Workplace™ how they promise higher satisfaction and well-being
When people participate in the design of their workspace, or are simply invited to participate, they feel better about work. Their sense of well-being and satisfaction rises.
These are the principal findings of a recent research project at the Royal College of Art. A “Workplace & Wellbeing” consortium at the college engaged in research intended to answer questions about the connection between design and people’s well-being in the workplace. It also sought to understand the benefits of workers' participation in the design process. The findings confirmed the power of design and the positive results achieved in giving people the ability to shape their own working environments.
Several years ago, as we developed our framework for The New Technical Workplace™, we had this sense of the benefits of participation in adapting the form of the workplace at the center of our considerations. Each one of the five factors defining The New Technical Workplace™ – Products, Projects, Presence, Proximity, and Platform – evoked or implied the direct participation of individuals and teams in shaping the workplace.
When we said “Give the Products a place,” we implied both purpose and curation, and the making of a place with the visual manifestation of the results of people's participation in the process of product development.
When we advised companies to “Organize around Projects,” we had looked at the transformation the organization of work and a core attribute of great teams, self-selection into project participation.
Our advice to “Give everybody a Presence in the product development process" recognized the power of customers, suppliers, designers and engineers in the creative process. We invited everybody who originated or might influence the evolution of the product into participation in its development.
The principle to “Enable variable Proximity” was a self-organizing concept, recognizing that the changing tempos of product development and scales of project teams called for a more dynamic and agile organization of the workplace. We needed to give people the ability to participate in the rearrangement of space and resources in each phase of product development.
And “Design resource-rich Platforms” was the essential provision of intentionally valuable places and the technologies enabling participation in doing great things.
That concept of “Platform” was, for us, the key pivoting concept for corporate real estate. For most of our clients, the previous couple of decades had been compression rather than expansion years. The orders from the CFO’s office to reduce the cost of business meant embracing certain workplace concepts that increasingly shrunk space, reduced resources, and pushed people out of the building. In a time of rapid change in the nature and purpose of work, people had less and less control over their environment and an increasing sense of exclusion. Disconnection, dissatisfaction, disengagement and decreasing productivity resulted.
But we observed that the new kind of product development, the complex technical product development evolving at the center of the digitization of everything, at the center of the momentum toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution, needed people from many different disciplines coming together to build integrated solutions to complex and tough problems. And developing products to participate in the IoT infrastructure meant that many non-traditional players had to become part of that process and the workplace, as well. Something had to change.
We felt a sense of urgency as we tried to reshape the corporate workplace. We felt that CRE had to move from regulation to participation. We felt that CRE needed to be sophisticated providers of spaces, places and resources that people would find compellingly attractive and purposely valuable. CRE had to provide richly resourced platforms to invite people into the workplace and find the tools to shape it to meet their changing needs.
Now there is good research evidence to support our model for The New Technical Workplace™. The Royal College of Art's "Workplace & Wellbeing" research confirms that collaborative participation, a sense of connection, and personal autonomy in the shaping of the workplace yields higher satisfaction and well-being in the workplace.