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14 November 2019
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Mike Kelly
Mike Kelly

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01 July 2019 | Mike Kelly 

Workplace and facilities management professionals need to do the basics right in workplace design, explains Mike Kelly.

We spend up to 90 per cent of our lives inside buildings, according to the European Commission. 

The WELL Certification and Leesman Index are helping us to think differently about the impact of the workplace and approaches such as biophilic design are being used to make built environments more congruent with our biological experience. 

Lighting, air quality and temperature rank highest in people’s dissatisfaction and a survey from Aspect.co.uk reports that 83 per cent of people find their workplace unpleasant.

We must take a human-centred, performance-driven approach to the design and management of the workplace, starting from the individual and working outwards.

Psychologist Kurt Lewin proposes that “behaviour is a function of the person and their environment”. People’s behaviour will shape the activities they undertake, however, their performance will affect the overall outcomes. The spaces we design and manage must optimise people’s performance. A report by Sharp Business Systems UK says worker performance could be increased by 20 per cent by simply increasing fresh air supplies! 

Design specifications must be a starting point and then enhanced to make sure spaces provide the optimum environment for the specific needs of the user. The basic requirements of air flow, lighting and temperature in a library should be optimised differently from a food court or co-working space.

We should take counsel from the Stoddart Review and create a chief workplace officer role to connect the built environment, business processes and people’s performance (covering both productivity and well-being). 

When designing and managing human-centred workplaces, form follows function follows performance.

Mike Kelly is library space development manager at the University of Manchester