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Does space affect our behaviour?

Mark Catchlove of Herman Miller explores whether space affects our behaviour and what this means for the future of work.  Being mindful of your workplace environment can help with engagement and collaboration. 

As someone that is involved in the word of office interiors, I hear this question regularly debated in workshops, conferences and seminars.

Whether we are in sporting arenas, religious buildings, hospitals, libraries or learning establishments, we have all learned to adjust our behaviour accordingly. My belief is that the space has played a major part.

There’s lots of research and subsequent evidence out there to prove that this is true. However, there is one way of settling an argument with anyone that doesn’t think that space affects behaviour.

 Take them shopping to IKEA.

Watch as customers go in for 1 thing and come out with 10.

Watch as they obediently follow the line painted on the floor, even though no-one tells them to.

Watch as they take in the room settings on the way round, creating desire and aspiration.

Watch as families join together in this shopping adventure and children influence their parents.

Watch as they realise on the way round that queuing for 10 minutes for 1 thing is crazy so they need to add more their bag or trolley.

OK, maybe I have simplified the whole experience, but when I share these thoughts in workplace seminars, this narrative rings true for most attendees.

So, what does this mean for the future of work?

In a world where workers are predicted to move jobs more frequently, you need to create an environment where people feel welcome and they want to stay with your company longer.

In a world where your organisation comes to rely on collaboration, both internal and external, you need to create an environment that not only supports but actually encourages connections.

In a world where statistics show that employees feel less engaged than ever, you need to provide an environment that supports and encourages employee engagement.

Isn’t it time to realise that space does affect behaviour. What is your organisation going to do about it?

By Mark Catchlove, Director of the Insight Group for Herman Miller’s EMEA region

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