Madzharov and her colleagues have determined that the scent of coffee has a powerful effect on humans—employers should probably invest in coffee makers that generate lots of coffee aromas and position those coffee makers in break areas throughout their offices. The Madzharov-lead team explored “the effect of an ambient coffee-like scent (versus no scent) on expectations regarding performance on an analytical reasoning task as well as on actual performance. . . .
Haga studied the repercussions of labeling a lamp “environmentally friendly.” He reports that “Built environments with objects that are labeled ‘environmentally friendly’ appear to change people’s behavior. For example, one study has shown that labeling a desktop lamp ‘environmentally friendly’ can enhance color discrimination, in comparison with when the lamp is labeled ‘conventional,’ even though there is no physical difference between the two lamps. This article explored . . .
Schwartz and his team studied the implications of changing postures while working – in other words standing after a period sitting or sitting after a time standing. They learned that when “Subjects executed validated cognitive tests (working speed, reaction time, concentration performance) either in sitting or alternating working postures on two separate days . . . . results suggest that working posture did not affect cognitive performance in the short term.. .
New research confirms how disruptive nearby smart phones are, even when they’re not ringing, buzzing, vibrating, or otherwise alerting us to some sort of activity. Data collected by Ward and colleagues indicate “that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity. . . . our data suggest at least one simple solution: separation. . . . We therefore suggest that defined and protected periods of separation . . .
Placement, quantity, and design all matter
Another important guide from the British Council for Offices
Straightforward ways to encourage student creativity
Burkus reviews research in the peer-reviewed press related to workplace environments. His findings are consistent with those often discussed in articles in Research Design Connections. Burkus states that “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation. Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. . . .
Workplace design solutions regularly support employee telecommuting. Golden and Gajendran investigated the job performance implications of telecommuting, finding via the analysis of data collected in “an organization with a voluntary telecommuting program. . . .
Research by Naylor and Sanchez has generated insights that should influence the size of screens on which information is presented; its further implications for the design of tools/etc. that people use to process information in the real world are intriguing. During the Naylor/Sanchez study “Participants read a news article on either a small or a large smartphone display and rated their attitudes toward the material before and after reading. . . .