In terms of design, places of work and learning are traditionally austere institutions for structured learning and productivity. This idea is changing.
This can be seen through the innovative approach of tailoring the design (both interior and exterior) of the workplace in order to gain productivity.
American Internet service company Google follows the idea of creating the style of working environment that reflects their company values. With a 2010 market value of $169.30 billion, there can be no doubt of the company’s prosperity.
The Google head offices or ‘Googleplex’s’ are a testament to the relaxed and creative environment that the company promotes. Built in bars, brightly coloured workrooms, outdoor pools, beach volleyball courts and a centre for employee’s pets are only some of the aspects that make up a Googleplex.
This is not only seen in huge corporations such as Google, but smaller Australian companies as well. Aussie Farmer’s Direct is an Australian owned company that sells Australian produce that is delivered directly to customer’s homes.
Due to the high pressure on sales representatives to sell because of their commission-based salaries, head offices are a place of relaxation and fun. Aussie Farmer’s Direct head office in Richmond is a modern and functional building that appeals to its stereotypically young representatives through interior design aspects. Functional minimal workspaces and large comfortable couches in place of a boardroom help to create a workplace that motivates employees and boosts productivity.
This theory of design boosting productivity is not a new idea. “Emotions in the Workplace – Research, Theory and Practice”, a 2000 textbook explains the movement towards allowing freedom for employees to feel comfortable enough to express themselves in their working environment. It is through this freedom to feel emotion in the workplace that employees are able work more innovatively and creatively, thus impacting on the content of their work.
This idea is especially relevant in learning environments. Senior Educations Lecturer from Monash University, Mary Lou Rasmussen said that the design of an environment impacts directly on output.
“I think in an educational context design is really important in terms of wellbeing. Huge disparages are made about the importance of design” said Ms. Rasmussen.
Not only is the design of a building proving to effect work efforts, it is also a way to cultivate learning.
In a media release by Lyons Architects, the architectural firm that were responsible for RMIT University’s Swanston Academic Building (SAB), it was stated that the design concept itself was to be a reflection of the style of learning that the university offered.
This idea is all too relevant to Ms. Rasmussen who went on to emphasise the direct link between design and the work produced.
“If more attention was paid to the design, both interior and exterior I think we would see huge changes in productivity”.