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Who Needs Employees with Their Attitudes

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Ask randomly one hundred people about their work experience, and chances are forty to fifty of those of those people will tell you they don’t like their jobs, if statistics are correct. With statistics like these in play, it’s no wonder why people have coined phrases like; gloomy Monday, hump day, and thank God it’s Friday. With attitudes like that circulating the workplace, it’s no shocker that it’s a drag for workers to come into the office. Translating this work experience into result factors suggests to me that companies are working at less than peak performance, just by virtue of worker attitude.

Despite the presence of such apathy in the workplace, decision makers by and large seem to persist down the same path with creating the same experiences for workers from day to day. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw.

Adapting the work environment to change the attitude of the people that work in the offices seems to be a reasonable solution to compensate for workplace apathy. A direct opposite experience from a worker coming into the their office, sitting in their cubicle bored, or sitting at their reception desk waiting for time to go home, is that of a design strategy referred to by psychologist as immersion. Immersion is a state of mental focus so intense that awareness of the “real” world is lost, generally resulting in a feeling of joy and satisfaction.

Opposite to apathetic words mentioned above, phrases like; in the zone, wired in, in the moment, and in the grove all denote a completely different experience. In the book: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he talks about the elements of “Flow”. In the office, when perceptual and cognitive systems are under-taxed, people become apathetic and become bored. Conversely, if they are over-taxed, workers become stressed and frustrated. Immersion occurs when perceptual and cognitive are functioning close to limitation. When that happens, people lose conception of real world emotions. It’s like the experience one has when reading a good book, watching a great movie, being involved in an interesting conversation or playing and exciting game.

Being in flow in the office is both a perceptual and cognitive experience. This means, a great physical environment together with balanced and interesting mental taxation can change worker experiences from apathy to “flow”. Given the wide range of human cognitive abilities (dissecting about 110 bits of information per second) and the relatively narrow range of perceptual abilities, it is generally easier to design actives and environments that achieve immersion through the things workers can see and be stimulated than through cognitive engagement. Optimal immersive experiences involve both sensory experiences.

I have been engaged in conversation with decision-makers whereby they have express apathy about improving the perceptual experience in the office, reasoning, workers should be happy they have a job. This philosophy is in direct contravention to the law of immersion and seems to promote apathy.

The overall successful idea is to promote engagement, make the workspace activity intensive, absorb attention, entertain, instruct, and exhibit modern office ideas, create innovative design strategies, even create games. Provide clearly defined goals and challenges that can be overcome. Design environments that balance distractions while promoting collaboration. The environments that work best are environments that distract workers from the “real” world, and suppress stimuli that which reminds them of such. Getting the right balance in place is more than a science, and requires some artful thought.

90 Degree Office Concepts is more than a company that provides specialty reception furniture, executive office furniture, office desks, and contemporary office furniture. We are a company that is fully committed in helping our clients find real solutions to real problems that are active in the workplace. We are continually presenting ways to help define both perceptual and cognitive answers to office environmental challenges.

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