The Value of Research in the Workplace

Is there a place in today’s crowded workplace for research initiatives? For years, research has driven workplace designers and facilities’ teams to construct the workplace of the future.

Workspace

Image courtesy of Taduuda on Unsplash

In the 1950’s, the open plan was truly an open plan. Steel desks laid out in rows with no partitions and no privacy were the norm.

In the 1960’s, the office (four walls and a door) was the desired design of most professionals at the time. The RAND Corporation developed its headquarters in Santa Monica on a simple lattice structure with open courtyards for intentional interaction.

In the 1970’s, the cubicle was born. A modular design of tremendous flexibility was the choice of facilities professionals everywhere, and density was the name of the game.

Fast forward, the open plan was making a strong comeback. The cubicle walls provided a sense of privacy but lacked real collaboration like its big brother from the 50’s.

Today, the idea of “resimercial” is making its entrance into the workplace – a combination of residential and commercial. Employees want a little bit of home in their current workplace.

This workplace change is due in large part to the changing of the generations in the workplace who bring a tighter integration with family and community into their professions.

What Does This Have to Do with Research?

Research is the backbone of all of these significant workplace design changes. It extends beyond the workplace into education, healthcare, and religious institutions.

Every major furniture manufacturer has a research group. Even smaller manufacturers see the value of creating original research on the workplace.

Haworth Research

Major corporations spend millions of dollars to attract and retain talent and having a compelling workplace that supports employee productivity, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and communication is vital to the growth of organizations.

Employees are more demanding customers of their workspaces than any other time in history. Prospective employees have grown up in a visually rich environment thanks to movies, television, and the media arts.

They want stimulating and intriguing visual workspaces.

The workplace has become a discriminator in the war for talent. As a discriminator, research can help your company understand the differences between trends and fads, and build spaces that help you win the war for talent.

The Changing Face of Research

Over the past few weeks, I have been digging into Apple’s developer kits – ResearchKit and CareKit. They have revolutionized the way we can collect medical research data. Some apps I found include Autism, heart health, sleep tracking, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy.

Apple Developer Kits

What if we could use the same philosophy that medical researchers have used for understanding diseases, but use it to understand our workplaces better?

The possibilities that are smart devices offer us for understanding our workplaces is an untapped market. As design professionals and researchers, we need to understand the changing faces of workspaces and how they fit within the context of our company cultures.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will explore the wearable device market and its potential impact on the workplace, and dream how active research can build the changing workplace of the future.

Question: What type of research projects have you conducted in your workplace? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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