Architectural design plays a large part in workplace psychology and enhanced business culture. It helps define everything from company culture and ethics, to employee productivity.
Psychology of Design
“Environmental psychology explores the parameters and variables that might alter one’s mood, behavior, productivity, effectiveness, and attitude.” Irving Weiner, AIA, & Environmental Psychology Professor
Have you ever walked into an office, or store and felt like, “Ahh, this is a place I want to be”? Maybe you’re not even sure why, but your subconscious had evaluated the space and given its stamp of approval, even before your rational brain has caught up.
This non-verbal communication is important for a how a commercial space (be it storefront, office, apartment building) speaks to both its customers and employees. A healthy workplace design will impact the company identity (design of space), help define the company culture, and reflect its ethics. But not only that, it influences how people behave. Sound important? We think so.
But you might ask, how do we know this? Well, the field of environmental psychology studies how everything around us—our spaces, our buildings, our cities, and our landscape—make us feel and behave.
According to Dave Alan Kopec (New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego), it’s “the study of human relations and behaviors within the context of built and natural environments.” (1)
This knowledge of behavior modification is a powerful tool, which we as architects, use to create results for our clients. What kind of results? Well, in an office setting, this can lead to improvements in employee productivity, while for retail locations, purposeful design should lead to higher sales. In a healthcare environment, it could mean faster healing and shorter hospital stays. We’re talking tangible, measurable results!
“The goals are to integrate environmental factors such as HVAC, illumination, color, art, and ergonomics into the unconscious mind, so that one’s perception is positive; which in turn shall motivate one to be more effective in academia, in the community, and in the workforce.” Irving Weiner
Healthier Workplace: Enhanced Business Culture
So if this is known, and out there, why are so many office-type building still so…. blah? Well, according to Mike Bahr, it’s because most modern offices are solely considered as a cost, rather than a performance driver. They go for so called “functional” considerations, like let’s cram as many people in as possible, and one-size fits all workstations.
Don’t get us wrong, functionality is incredibly important, but designing based on the narrow definition of function misses so many opportunities. We like to incorporate all aspects of what we consider to be functionality, which includes how our clients want to encourage their clients/employees to behave and feel.
And each situation is different. A highly collaborative office culture may need more shared workstations, meeting spaces, lounge areas, while a control culture is more suited to formal, individual spaces. It all starts with a) the “recognition of space as a way to support productivity and company goals”, b) defining the goals for behaviors and company culture, and c) letting the architect synergize all the elements in to a design that delivers.
How is your commercial space supporting your goals? We’ve helped all types of companies from corporate offices, to salons, and professional studio spaces to enhanced business culture. Take a look at some of our projects and see how we can help you!