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Emotional journey with workplace design

Emotional journey with workplace design

Think back to a time when you visited a tired, drab office for a meeting. Even worse, maybe you worked in one! How did you feel? Compare that feeling with an experience at a smart, modern office, and you will appreciate how office design affects us emotionally. Workplace design company Evoke Projects looks at the emotional journey we encounter during our working lives.

Our emotional connection to our workplace will either make us loyal or desperate to find another job. Research by Elmo Software indicates that 43 per cent of Aussie workers are planning to search for a new job in 2022, a third will leave their roles as soon as they secure a new position and nearly a fifth will resign without another job lined up.1 It’s more important than ever before to create a positive employee experience through your office design and fit-out.

Three levels of emotional connection to design

Looking at general human behaviour, we can learn a thing or two from design school Interaction Design Foundation.2 They write that designers should try to reach people on three cognitive levels to evoke a positive user experience:

  1. Visceral—Users’ gut reactions to or their first impressions of your design.
  2. Behavioural—Users subconsciously evaluate how your design helps them achieve goals, and how easily. They should feel satisfied that they’re in control, with minimum effort required.
  3. Reflective—After they encounter your design, users will consciously judge its performance and benefits, including value for money. If they’re happy, they’ll keep using it, form emotional bonds with it and tell their friends.

Strategies to build an emotional connection to your office design

So how can we translate this insight into strategies and tips for office design?

1. Generate a visceral reaction with aesthetic appeal

That initial ‘gut’ reaction to your office design will be felt by both visitors and staff. Visitors will mostly only encounter the reception and meeting rooms, but staff will live with your office fit-out choice every day in every room. The aesthetic design will have most impact at a visceral level. Sounds and smells also hit the senses, which is relevant for some businesses.

  • Colour
    Let’s look at the way Dulux describes its colour themes for 2022:
    “Flourish has rich, sensual hues, warm neutrals and pops of gold. Restore will create a calm and reassuring backdrop with earth-based neutrals and natural tones. For joyful, inspiring office interior design, embrace Wonder with its playful, summery, 80s-inspired colours”.3Even reading about colour can evoke our emotions! Colour choice will be very personal to a business. Brand colours are often important, while creative businesses will benefit from splashes of purple. For staff well-being, nature-resembling colours such as green, blue and brown will have the most positive impact.
  • Texture
    Natural textures such as stone and leather have a pleasing effect on our senses.
  • Form
    Neurologically, we prefer curved lines rather than straight lines so use curves in your office design and furniture choices.
  • Light
    Light should be natural and easy on the eye, rather than bright and dazzling.
  • Imagery
    Choose artwork that provokes an emotional response to suit your business.

2. Create a behavioural reaction to your office design

Visitors may have a behavioural reaction to your office design, particularly around building navigation, comfort and COVID-safety. Do they leave your building feeling as if it was a safe and positive experience?

Mostly, it will be staff who have a behavioural reaction. How does the office design help them with their workflow? Can they achieve their goals? Do they feel in control?

  • Activity based working and hybrid work patterns
    Activity based working and hybrid work patterns give people control over how and where they work. Activity based working means that the office fit-out includes zones to suit different types of work, for example, quiet working zones, private meeting rooms, collaboration areas, group meeting pods, open workstation areas and breakout spaces. Hybrid working gives staff a balance between office and remote work days.
  • Biophilic elements in the office design
    Biophilic elements in the office design promote wellness and boost mental health. Biophilia works on the subconscious as well as the conscious mind and will make the work day feel more pleasant. This can promote a positive behavioural cognitive response. Natural plants are an easy addition to the office fit-out. They are visually appealing, calming, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

3. Leave a lasting impression

Reflection will primarily be a staff experience (although visitors may reflect about an office design feature that stands out from their visit). We all reflect on our work day and how we feel when we get home. If we feel well, we feel connected with our workplace, motivated and loyal.

Emotional intelligence is said to be higher in Millennials than other generations.4 With Millennials set to comprise 75 per cent of the Australian workforce by 2025, we should expect reflection and emotional connection to a workplace to become more important.5

Word of mouth can result in ‘preferred employer’ status. Think about the reputation Google has as an employer. Even if you do not know anybody who works there, you have probably heard about their efforts to promote a fantastic work environment through clever workplace design and unique office fit-outs. Putting greens and bowling alleys may not be within the reach of all budgets but being an employer of choice is!

For workplace design and fit-out ideas that promote an emotional connection, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.


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