Content to improve lives and performance
Yang and colleagues investigated the remote work experiences of Microsoft employees. They report that “The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused a rapid shift to full-time remote work for many information workers. Viewing this shift as a natural experiment in which some workers were already working remotely before the pandemic enables us to separate the effects of firm-wide remote work from other pandemic-related confounding factors.
Joseph Allen, the director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings program clearly lays out in a recent article in The Atlantic (free at the web address below) why effective workplace ventilation is so important. His piece includes information that’s crucial for every workplace designer and manager to know and to apply. For example: “My team at Harvard recently published research on the health of several hundred office workers around the world for more than a year. We found that people performed better on cognition tests when the ventilation rate in their working environment was higher.
Research on topics related to workplace ventilation continues. A Laurent-lead team reports that their goal was “to understand whether cognitive function was associated with real-time indoor concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon dioxide (CO2). We conducted a prospective observational longitudinal study among 302 office workers in urban commercial buildings located in six countries (China, India, Mexico, Thailand, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom). For 12 months, [we] assessed cognitive function. . . .
Recently, lots of attention has focused on meetings, and we’ve all learned to Zoom. Future in-meeting experiences will continue to significantly affect both individual and organizational wellbeing and performance. Neuroscience research can be used to encourage at-meeting situations with advantageous outcomes.
Workplace design can make worker burnout less likely and employee engagement more probable—neuroscience research details not only why but also how.
Comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness key
Woo and colleagues assessed indoor environmental quality’s (IEQ’s) effects on workplace user experiences. They collected data from 7 office buildings and report that “Three types of buildings were included in this study: ‘Heritage listed’ (c.1880–1890s), ‘Conventional’ (c.1960–1980s) and ‘Modern’ (post 2000) office buildings. Although the measured IEQ conditions were relatively good with no significant fluctuation across the selected buildings, the discrepancy between objective IEQ data and subjective occupant evaluations was noted.
Larson investigated workplace experiences. She determined via interviews that “workers use various practices including personalization and reconfiguration of one’s workspace, creating positive meanings, carving out private spaces, and creating community to create home at work. The humanistic geography literature suggests that workers undergo these activities in order to thrive and live an authentic human existence.