sally's blog

Rise of the New Workplace (01-10-14)

Knowledge at Wharton reports on Coonerty and Neuner’s new book, The Rise of the Naked Economy:  How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace.  Coonerty and Neuner report that “The old cubicle-based, static company is increasingly being replaced by a more fluid and mobile model: ‘the constant assembly, disassembly, and reassembly of people, talent, and ideas around a range of challenges and opportunities.’ The traditional office building is ill-equipped to host this new breed of company.

Culture Differences in Sensory Language (01-09-14)

Researchers from the Netherlands and Sweden have confirmed that cultures develop languages that vary in their attention to various sorts of sensory stimuli. Majid and Berenhult learned that “Even with familiar everyday odors, such as coffee, banana, and chocolate, English speakers only correctly name the smells around 50% of the time [which] has led to the conclusion that smells defy words.”  However, “this is not true in all languages.  . . .  In Jahai there are around a dozen different words to describe different qualities of smell. . .

Novels and Human Experience (01-08-14)

Reading novels has been linked to modifications of our “remembered” sensory experiences.  Reading about a protagonist makes us feel like we’re “living in his shoes,” even when we’re not actively reading his/her story.  This research on novels indicates the value of qualitative research techniques, such as narrative research, and the need to recognize users’ read experiences when programming spaces. 

Limits to Self-Service (01-07-14)

At some offices, workers are greeted by a concierge that directs them to  desired services.  The same is true for people arriving at hotels and a growing number of other place types.  Should that concierge be technology-based or a live, in-the-flesh human?  El-Said and Kattara found via research at five-star hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh that “customers prefer to contact an employee rather than depending on a technology-based self-service in the majority of service encounters . . .

Continuing Value of Green Space (01-06-14)

Being in a greener, natural environment “makes people feel better in the long run.”  A research team lead by Mathew White has learned that “green space does appear to improve mental health in a sustained way.  The[ir] report, which appears in . . . Environmental Science & Technology, gives urban park advocates another argument in support of their cause. . . .

Even Very Brief Interruptions Are a No-No (01-03-14)

Research continues to support providing spaces where people can do knowledge work without interruption.  Altmann, Trafton, and Hambrick found that when people who participated in their study were doing mental work that required that they concentrate, “Interruptions averaging 4.4 s[econds] long tripled the rate of . . . errors . . . relative to baseline trials. Interruptions averaging 2.8 s[econds] long . . . doubled the rate of . . .

Rethinking Green Rooms (01-02-14)

People often try to calm down before a stress-inducing event, such as a client presentation or appearing on television.  Research by Brooks indicates that “Compared with those who attempt to calm down, individuals who reappraise their anxious arousal as excitement feel more excited and perform better.