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How to Improve Your Office Design Using Nothing More Than the Power of Thought

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They’ve done it before. They’ve learned something about it through their channels and resources. They have recall from experiences they have had with it over time. What they remember and imagine helps them understand, relate, interact with other people, things, and their environment. Those experiences, they have interpreted and assign meanings based upon representations manufactured in their minds. They form mental models.

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With any office environment that involves people there are constantly two models before them; one is right here, right now in this moment with this environment, the other is a mental model fabricated in our minds based upon what they have derived from experience. Comparing this model, the “right here” model, with the mental model you decide unconsciously if the “right here” model makes sense. It’s a template for comparison.

In some light having preconceived beliefs may be thought of as illogical and bias. The fact remains, these associations keep us alive and informed. When staring face to face with a saber tooth tiger our mental model of being eaten alive tells us to get the heck out of there.

Making their mental models work for you

Because we all have these mental models we can strategically use these models to work with us in our office design to plan more effectively. Using these mental models as an influence tool when designing our workspace adds a great advantage to getting results with less need for verbal communication, here’s why…..

Designing office systems around accepted beliefs makes the design easy to relate to and understand. Naturally, you understand and interact with people, systems and environments by comparing what you are familiar and comfortable with in the real-world with mental models. When there is a match between the two (real-world and mental model) the person, system or thing is mentally perfect. When there is incongruence there is mental conflict.

Simply put, by matching (operational) systems and company message, with supporting relationships to mental models you can influence thoughts. Let me explain; everything in your office environment tells a story, from the choice of color, to the shape of the furniture, to placement even the way workers interact with the furniture itself. We can’t expound on any given area right now, (however we are available for consultation) but let’s look at a couple quickly.

Modeling with color

Looking at color for example, vibrant red is no less exciting on a printed page or a beautiful dress than it is on an office wall or on a piece of furniture. Whether or not bright red is appropriate for the intended message your company wants to convey is a decision to be made. Color is a way to influence the emotional responses within office environments. Color can be used to make instant communication.

In working with color, each color with their specific shade has a mental model that is associated with that color. Choosing colors that match mental associations with that color helps unspoken communication. Look around you, the world is filled with color, and each color we see reminds us of something or someone. That something or someone generates emotion. Use it.

Bear in mind that color can have a negative association or a positive one. When we think of red, for example, we know that it is associated with danger or fire, and fire burns, whereby when positioned in the right context red hot salsa can influence a spicy food lover to buy it. Positioning color contextually can help establish an influential mindset in your office.

A contextual example derived from word study shows that red is associated with words like provocative and sultry and is considered the most sensual minded color in the spectrum. So, when placed in the context of cosmetics, lingerie, sports cars or sexy clothing, red titillates and arouses the senses. In this way positioning the right color in the right context can create synergy.

Modeling with interaction mindedness

When designing an office, often times space planners may have very complete and accurate ideas about creating models for fitting furniture into usable space, but often have weak interaction models- i.e., they know much about how the furniture should fit into the space and how everything physically goes together, but often little is known about how people will interact within the confines of that space. Conversely, users of an operational system and supporting furniture typically have little and incomplete knowledge of how system models work, but through use and experience commonly attain interaction models that are more complete and accurate than those of designers. The best designs are those that happen only when the designing party has an accurate and complete interaction model, and then design a system interface that reflects an efficient merging of the two models.

When designing your office it is important to understand “all” mental models associated with the design and the intended use and message. Matching the framework of mental models makes it easy to understand and relate to its message and use. The way the office looks immediately tells a visual story. That story, when matched perfectly to the intended message promotes clarity. Likewise the systems of operation and how the furniture matches that system make working the system clear and easy.

90 Degree Office Concepts personnel have spent years understanding how environments look, feel and support its users. We can help take away the learning curve and expensive trial and error associated with that process. Learn how you can create an environment that works best for your business. Call us today for a free office environmental audit. 855-699-0334

Notice how a simple change of wall color can neutralize the emotion in the same room as above.

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We were so happy with the first office that Bernie helped us with, that we used him for this office move too. Bernie assisted with design, material and color choices and worked within our tight time frame (end of the year and less than 3 weeks) and our budget to give us the perfect look. We coul...

Audrey Levi
Jan 07, 2013