Destination NeoCon 2012 – A place to get engaged, educated and inspired. PART 2

Destination NeoCon 2012 – A place to get engaged, educated and inspired. PART 2

By Jill Mendoza: As I mentioned in Part 1 of my “Destination NeoCon 2012” series, I have chosen to explore ideas from, three common themes that emerged from this years event.  PART TWO  is dedicated to “Evidence-based Design; what is really defining today’s workplace for tomorrow?” When you talk about today’s workplace, Companies now realize that space can be an asset and it can have a direct and positive impact on performance. With this realization Companies want evidence that the solutions offered by the design community are the right ones. Thus the art of design is increasingly being joined by the science of design. Many of the ideas I heard discussed this year were tied to technology, and how the accessibility of information is affecting world order and, in turn, the workplace.  In a keynote address by, Primo Orpilla, co-founded Studio O+A in the SF Bay Area, he noted the  “Availability of information is breaking down existing hierarchies in offices,”.  This same idea was also explored in a June, 20, 2012 WSJ (Wall Street Journal) article,  “Who’s the Boss?  There isn’t one” .  Believe it or not, there are boss-less companies out there, where the hierarchy is flat, pay is often determined by peers and the workday is directed by employees themselves.  Although if you read the complete article, you will find that recent evidence collected on the value of the flat organization has be mixed. Another idea confronted the misconception that telecommuting (workers who work remotely) and “mobile workers” (workers who share unassigned workstations), are replacing traditional in-office workers.   Although you will find much research supporting these trends, it’s slowly becoming a known fact that the telecomuter and the mobile worker concepts are not happening as predicted.  Despite the rise in the number of employees who telecommute for example, they only represents about 2% of the nation’s full-time employees. I realize that Evidence-based design provides the data designers use to produce valid design concepts.  For example, in the Healthcare industry, Evidence-base design determined that patients outcomes improved when given private rooms and the distance between the number of steps a patient takes between the bed and bathroom, when reduced, can minimized the incidence of falls.   Although these outcomes may seem more common sense than scientific, the use of Evidence-based design in forming design solutions has proven to be a valuable tool. Given all these ideas, concepts and shifts, I think it is easy to conclude that the workplace continues to be the gathering place for busy, productive people regardless of how they work. As designers we must understand that Evidence-based design and the research that forms it are just a few of the many tools we have in our toolbox. It is apparent that the demand for more high performing workplaces is rapidly diversifying.  Fortunately, the ability of design professionals to engage these demands and drive progressive solutions for our clients is just as diverse.  It starts with an understanding of the points of connection between Evidence-base design, research, the marketplace imperatives and the the design principles they inform.  This is what will ultimately define today’s workplace for tomorrow.  

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