Global Humanity Looks to Unity of Minds in Crisis: Massacres of Muslim Worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live...

Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, PhD. - avatar Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, PhD.

New TAFE program for Aboriginal health-care students sees a near perfect completion rate

If we are to close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people, we need to develop and staff culturally competent health-care services.from shutterstock.comA customised scholarship program develo...

Kylie Gwynne, Associate Professor and Research Director, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney - avatar Kylie Gwynne, Associate Professor and Research Director, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney

Two million Aussies delay or don't go to the dentist – here's how we can fix that

When did you last visit the dentist?By Concept Photo/ShutterstockDental care in Australia is a policy anomaly; for some reason, the mouth is treated very differently to other parts of the body. About ...

Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute - avatar Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute

We need a new definition of pornography - with consent at the centre

In a search of social science literature on pornography, none of the definitions reviewed mentioned consent.ShutterstockWe all think we know what pornography is, whether we oppose it, use it, or toler...

Sarah Ashton, PhD Candidate, Monash University - avatar Sarah Ashton, PhD Candidate, Monash University

Women can build positive body image by controlling what they view on social media

It is possible to limit your bombardment with images of bodies that feel way out of reach – so choose wisely who you follow. hannah grace / unsplash, CC BYSocial media use is often described as ...

Rachel Cohen, Clinical Psychologist and PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Rachel Cohen, Clinical Psychologist and PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney

Ultra low wage growth isn't accidental. It is the intended outcome of government policies

This is the first in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.The long debate over the c...

John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Curious Kids: why bats sleep upside down, and other stories of animal adaptation

Zzzzzzz...Flickr/Ryan Poplin, CC BY-SACurious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au You might also l...

Amy Edwards, Post Doctoral Researcher, La Trobe University - avatar Amy Edwards, Post Doctoral Researcher, La Trobe University

'Give us a sniff, love': giving marsupials scents from suitors helps breeding programs

A baby eastern barred bandicoot pokes its head out of its mother’s pouch. M. Parrott, Zoos Victoria, Author providedSmell is a vital part of sexual attraction for all kinds of animals (including...

Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne - avatar Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne

Youth homelessness efforts get a lowly 2 stars from national report card

Despite a ten-point roadmap and bold commitments, Australia has not stayed on track to reduce youth homeless over the past decade.Roman Bodnarchuk/ShutterstockA National Report Card on Youth Homelessn...

David MacKenzie, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar David MacKenzie, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, Swinburne University of Technology

View from The Hill: A truly inclusive society requires political restraint

“Standing against hate” requires robust leadership from the politicians.AAP, CC BY-NCTerrible tragedies test leaders to the full. Anyone watching from afar must be impressed with the way i...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

NSW election neck and neck as voters face a 1950s-style 'I'll see you and raise you' campaign

On Saturday, March 23, the people of New South Wales will head to the ballot boxes for a state election. It is looking increasingly close, with polls showing government and opposition neck and neck on...

David Clune, Honorary Associate, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney - avatar David Clune, Honorary Associate, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

Ultra low wage growth isn't accidental. It is the intended outcome of government policies

This is the first in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.The long debate over the c...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

Christchurch attacks are a stark warning of toxic political environment that allows hate to flourish

When lives are tragically cut short, it is generally easier to explain the “how” than the “why”. This dark reality is all the more felt when tragedy comes at the hands of murd...

Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University - avatar Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Can a senator be expelled from the federal parliament for offensive statements?

In the wake of comments about the Christchurch massacre, members of the public have raised the question of whether a senator can be expelled from the Senate for making offensive statements. It is now...

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney - avatar Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney

The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has travelled to Christchurch after yesterday's terror attacks.NZ Prime Minister's office, CC BY-SAAs an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged ...

Stephen Croucher, Professor and Head of School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing, Massey University - avatar Stephen Croucher, Professor and Head of School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing, Massey University

Why overhauling NZ's gun and terrorism laws alone can't stop terrorist attacks

Grieving members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch.EPA/Martin Hunter, CC BY-SAMy research focuses on terrorism in or affecting New Zealand. Until yesterday, my p...

John Battersby, Police Teaching Fellow, Massey University - avatar John Battersby, Police Teaching Fellow, Massey University

Random Thoughts V

If Planned Parenthood was selling puppy body parts they would be shut down yesterday. The thirties and forties are a blur with work and family.  The fifties start to slow down and in the sixties yo...

Dr. Robert Owens - avatar Dr. Robert Owens

Christchurch mosque shootings must end New Zealand's innocence about right-wing terrorism

Members of the Armed Offenders Squad push back members of the public following a shooting at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.AAP/Martin Hunter, CC BY-SATonight, New Zealand police continue t...

Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University - avatar Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University

Why news outlets should think twice about republishing the New Zealand mosque shooter's livestream

Like so many times before with acts of mass violence in different parts of the world, news of shootings at two Christchurch mosques on Friday instantly ricocheted around the world via social media. Wh...

Colleen Murrell, Associate Professor, Journalism, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Colleen Murrell, Associate Professor, Journalism, Swinburne University of Technology

imageAn increasing bank of research shows people who work in open plan offices find it difficult to focus.Chris Jagers/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

With all the chatter about beautiful office design, it would be easy to assume workplaces have come a long way from the days of the cubicle farm. But recent research has shown this may not actually be the case.

In spite of increasing images of attractive workplaces from many large Australian companies, many of today’s workplaces are not well designed. Poor workplace design leads to increased conflict and stress, which reduces performance and leads to employees resigning.

Workspace is the second largest overhead for most organisations and can influence productivity by up to 20%. This is why organisations are increasingly exploring ways of using the environment to support performance and innovation.

To accommodate changes in work and the changing needs of workers, the corporate world has seen a significant shift to activity based working or “free addressing”.

Activity based working allows organisations to save on their accommodation costs, fitting in up to 20% more people in the building by designing workplaces where employees have no fixed desk. The concept arose in part in response to the increased desire by organisations for collaboration and networking among employees, and secondly to the increasingly mobile and virtual nature of work.

Initial research however, has indicated growing concern. A 2013 global study by Gensler found that as few as one in four workers report working in an optimal workplace environment, and more than half report being disturbed by others when trying to focus.

Employees report being constantly interrupted, distracted by noise, and not having enough space. Cortisol tests conducted on employees have shown stress levels in quiet private spaces at around half those in noisy open areas.

imageCubicles are gradually disappearing from workplaces.Shutterstock

Difficult to focus

Research on knowledge workers has shown an increase in the time needed for focused individual work, with the time required for collaborative work decreasing. The concept of the activity-based workplace may be actually producing counter-productive results.

When people can’t focus, the research indicates, they are less effective at learning, building relationships and at collaborating.

In many new offices based around the concept of activity based working, employees are using boxes and posters and plants, pretty much anything they can find, to try and create a space where they can actually get work done.

A recent study of 5,500 office workers globally by commercial real estate company CBRE showing that the ability to think and concentrate was important for workers of all ages; millennials and baby boomers want the same thing.

imageGoogle designs its workplaces to promote creativity.Pixel Pro Photography/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Innovation remains a top priority for organisations, and yet changes in workplace design may be negatively affecting innovation potential.

The clean desk policy required by activity based working, means that workers need to remove all of their work and belongings at the end of each day. Studies have shown that messy desks can increase creative thinking and serendipitous discoveries.

What research to date does demonstrate is that the design of a workplace needs to accommodate not only the type of work that needs to get done there, but also the individual needs of the people who are completing that work.

There is an increasing focus on objective measurement within the workplace, examining issues such as stress and productivity using physiological and neuroscience tests.

Results have shown employees can be significantly stressed with detrimental effects on both well-being and performance, though they may not report feeling stressed in self-report research.

imageNAB’s 700 Bourke street building is designed for workers that don’t require a fixed desk, with lockers made available for storing personal items.Charis Palmer

More work to do

The importance of a well-designed workplace to support connection is as important as ever. A recent Harvard Business Review article reported research that showed digital communication does not replace face-to-face interaction and that remote teams do not perform as well as those co-located.

It is somewhat surprising to realise we actually haven’t worked out how to design offices that make a positive difference to performance for all types of individuals and types of work.

We do know that subtle cues in our environment can cause us to be different versions of ourselves, more innovative, more outgoing, more collaborative for example, but we haven’t understood exactly how the workplace needs to be designed to achieve this.

Emerging theories of integrative workplace design should help us understand how to design workplaces that not only allow employees to perform better and make them feel better, but that could fundamentally change the experience of what it means to be at work.

image

Libby Sander does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Read more http://theconversation.com/office-design-should-focus-on-people-not-just-the-work-they-do-33677