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What is the most important aspect of designing a Human Organisation's physical workspace?

The nature of a working environment significantly impacts upon a workers’ ability to excel at and/or enjoy their work.

We should be creating working spaces that are not designed to control or manipulate, but to express and unleash. How do we do this? By giving employees considerable control over how their working environment feels and functions.

Employees that have ownership over their workspace and feel positive about it will not only have improved personal well being. Creating this dynamic sends the message that an organisation is both looking for and expecting, a high degree of responsibility and accountability from its employees. We want to build organisational cultures where employees feel that if the organisation is to succeed, it is up to them to ensure it does - that they can’t expect some other department to rescue them - and that the accountability falls upon them as a result. Naturally, if an employee has contributed to something then they have more ownership of it. So we can also expect our working environments to be better cared for, maintained and respected.

Employees' sense of belonging in the place where their work happens is crucial for meaningful connections to others and to the organization. Co-creating that space is part of that dynamic. Decisions that organizations make regarding physical space are far bigger than real estate and facilities costs, they are the very essence of what it means to have a dignified working life.

“These places should emphatically NOT be places of supervision or places of control. They should be devoted to the vital business of encouraging and harnessing human energy in order to achieve the purpose of the organization. They should be designed and operated in ways that encourage social interaction, chance encounters, spontaneous gatherings, happy accidents, and the constant churn and flow of ideas and information. None of this happens in the battery-hen factories that most of steam-engine workplaces have become.”

Dr Mark Powell and Jonathan Gifford, My Steam Engine Is Broken

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  1. John Featherby

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