16 October 2014
Architect and access consultant Steve Maslin has called for workplaces to be designed with more consideration for the diversity of workers likely to use the space.
Speaking at the Workplace Trends conference in London yesterday, Maslin asked those involved in the design process to consider everything from practical signposting of alternative access routes for wheelchair users to the need to incorporate elements of mental stimulation.
"The brain needs continuous variety of sensory nourishment to develop and function," said Maslin, who also warned designers and workplace managers to consider small details such as the impact of 'jazzy' office carpets on migraine sufferers.
Maslin also warned against the wholesale adoption of workplace ideas such as 'smart working'.
"When I hear the term 'smart working', I wonder - how smart? Because I know that, as an architect, the concept of smart working can be really seductive and engaging. But if we're not careful the concept can overtake the actual needs of workers."
For example, continued Maslin, not all people will be good team-workers.
"Put them in an open-plan environment and they could well start exhibiting stress. Similarly, hot-desking, by which you're not giving people any scope to have predictability in their personal workplace, can again generate stress."
Maslin, who is dyslexic, explained that he had "a vulnerability to extraneous audio input. After while I struggle to weed noises out".
Workplace managers should consider whether, for example, having the radio on in the office is necessarily a good idea.