As Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Taking into account Winston Churchill’s wise words, Herman Miller decided to explore this idea to discover how our office spaces can shape our moods, stress levels, productivity and creativity. Therefore, the Claremont Graduate University’s Center for Neuroeconomics Studies performed a neurophysiology study on behalf of Herman Miller and the Living Office spaces. The study assessed how each setting affected individual physiology through monitoring hormones, cardiac activity, palmar sweat and respiration of 96 participants. The office settings studied by Claremont included a Jump Space, Plaza and Cove.
A Jump Space provides touch down areas that facilitate work for distinct period of times. Jump Spaces are generally located in the office along highly trafficked routes which can help to connect people quickly between other activities. The standing-height desk used in the study helped to provide some discretion and privacy. The study concluded that a Jump Space correlated with the highest increase in mood in participants due to the high traffic and discretion. In the Jump Space setting, work performance, mood and morale were boosted. Lastly, the Jump Space increased the ability to complete the group technical task of reassembling an apple peeler by using directions.
Overall, the Jump Space used in the study proved that this quick touch down space can increase creativity, happiness and productivity within the work place.
Unlike a Jump Space or Cove, Plazas are public spaces situated at points of the high trafficked areas within the office. Plazas are open and encourage mixing, mingling and multiple work activities in tandem. A Plaza hosts a space that is inviting and welcoming with higher rates of noise and natural light within the space. In the study, the strongest correlation between positive mood and performance was found in a Plaza setting. In a Plaza space the individuals had the highest baseline happiness and experienced an increase in mood after completing the individual and group tasks. Also, the Plaza space had more noise, natural light, foot traffic, and openness. Participants within the Plaza setting had the highest ability to complete the group task efficiently as a team.
Therefore, rather than being seen as a luxury or diversion, high-traffic areas like a Plaza can increase mood, increase performance, decrease stress and enhance creativity.
A Cove is a semi-private space near individual work stations or common areas that provide compact meeting areas for colleagues. The space enables engaging assemblies for short periods of time. Due to a Cove’s placement, there is a decent amount of foot traffic which tends to create noise levels higher than the Jump Space. Those in the study who worked within a Cove showed the largest improvements in mood and in turn, increased productivity.
With a secluded area, the Cove provided a quieter environment for individuals which in turn significantly improved individual moods.
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