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New trends from Worktech17: Living Office, co-design and IoT.

A self-learning space, open-designed for the future needs, based on the individual experience and wellbeing. This is the way of designing that was debated at the forum Worktech 2017, among leader companies as Herman Miller and Interface and architecture firms like Carlo Ratti Associati, Zaha Hadid Architects and Studio Banana.

The office must follow the life that takes place in it. That’s the core of the Herman Miller’s seven provocations, seven statements thought to guide the discussion between designers and companies, and based on the last company’s research “Living Office”, presented at Worktech17, one of the worldwide most important forum dedicated to real estate, technology and innovation. The study has involved anthropologists, psychologists and designers in a new holistic approach to the workplace, aiming to define the facts we need to understand when we think about today’s ways of working.

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One of these provocations states: “we feel before we think”. The environment has a great impact on us, therefore it is the main feature we have to take care of. It must be a living environment, where communication takes constantly place (quoting a provocation, “you + me = 3”) in a “wonderful mess” that facilitate creativity and innovation.

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Ulrich Blum, from Zaha Hadid Architects, has given a really good insight during his speech “The self-learning workplace”, describing a way of designing that starts from the use of IoT and sensors to collect data about the habits of every employee. “We have to think about the office as a “living network” Blum said. The data are divided in different parameters as distance, visibility and lighting, in order to give to designers the right knowledges to create a space that fits with the needs of every single person living in the workplace, optimizing the desk arrangement, the communication, the use of working time and the disposition of different environments. Furthermore, datas give the opportunity, using the generated algorithms, for creating more effective team works and arrange them in an ideal workplace. “The idea is to enhance the hierarchy of the office as it really is, and not as it is in the boss’s mind. We have to join furniture and artificial intelligence in order to increase the flexibility the furniture can give us”, Blum concludes.

As we can already see, technology is crucial in nowadays office, even though, quoting another provocation, “we have to forget about it”, meaning it has to be like a comfortable shoe: we have to perfectly walk in it, without feeling anything. As Marco Maria Pedrazzo, by Carlo Ratti Associates, said, exposing the firm’s research about the “technological management of the workplace”, “technology has to create a resilient environment. We have to change our perspective: it is the environment that has to adapt to us, not us to the environment. We have to design as we are designing 20 years ahead, and the only way to do that is making experiments, trying prototypes and see how people react to them“.

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Even though it seems in contrast with Herman Miller’s provocation “The next thing isn’t for you”, it isn’t, because innovation must be based on the company’s culture, and design must fit with the actual ways of working and corporate policy of each situation, but at the same time it has to be open-designed, giving the chance of being reinvented in the future, following the evolution of the company itself and of the times.
Something too ahead, in fact, can scare people, while innovation has to generate engagement, fulfilment and happiness.

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Key Portilla, from Studio Banana, suggested some interesting approach, like co-design sessions, where managers and employee are an active part in the workplace’s construction or restyling, or university-campus-like offices, based on a different environment that supports different states of mind and activity.

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Finally, even in a new tech-workspace, nature can be the secret of a happy and stress-free office. Oliver Heath, from Interface, has talked about “biophilic design“, meaning the need to recreate the “sense of nature“, enhancing the presence of real natural elements, like light, plants and water, or a reference to them, using colors, patterns and materials that help to recreate visually and emotionally the feeling of really being in a natural environment.
Report by Mario Colombo (Herman Miller), editing by Gabriele Masi.

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Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.

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There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.

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If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:

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 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.

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 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.

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4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.

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5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Will technology create happy workplaces?

Augmented reality, cloud services, wearable devices, IoT: these are the four technologies that are changing our ways of working and living, and these are the tools we can use to start to build a happy office: they increase our ability to manage our time, our relationships, the environment we live in, our professional growth. These are the main findings of the research i-Enjoy by Sedus, presented with the app se:connects for agile and smart working spaces.

Technology can give a crucial support in the office, either it is “passive”, meaning as a tool for a better environmental comfort, either “active”, for an implementation of the working activities. Technology really has several advantages like a better organization of the working time and space and a better “ergonomics” of the intellectual work, leaving all the repetitive stuff to the machines and leaving to the humans the creative part”, Daniele Andriolo of Plantronics says in the main interview of the Sedus’ s study i-Enjoy. “But we have to be careful that the massive data we continuously collect, won’t let us lose the sight of what really counts”, he concludes.

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The fast development of technology in the working spaces is rapidly changing our working culture, making employees a more active part in the organizations that, on the other hand, has increasingly focused on the individual wellbeing.
If talking about happiness at work means also talking about engagement, fulfilment and empowerment, therefore technology can have a key role to turn the office in a place where a big part of our happiness can be pursued.
Already nowadays we can see augmented reality tools or cloud servers creating a faster and more transparent communication, while dedicated apps and software as Happify Health or Awesome Boss take care of the people, giving to employees tools to motivate themselves or to effectively manage the teamwork.

Space and time are very much affected by the technology and most of all architecture and design. New concepts like “environmental happiness” leads to build spaces that are easy to control in every aspect: heating, lighting, planning, scheduling,… On the other hand, IoT and wearable devices are perfect to collect useful data, intercepting and elaborating people’s preferences, and helping to design offices that are capable of satisfying employees’ needs.

A good example is the Sedus’s app se:connects, especially designed for helping to solve some of the main problems of the changing towards agile and smart ways of working: using their smartphone, employees can easily find a free workstation, register their position and be able to find their colleagues. These data are collected in a complete and updated report that gives all the information to optimize the usage of the space, making the company and the workers both happier.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Body, Mind and Environment: a 3D wellness in the office.

If anyone has to pick up a concept to sum up the nowadays evolution of the workplace, he would choose “feeling good”. As the biopsychosocial model has become used to defined wellness and health, the environment has been understood to have a fundamental role in shaping the different dimensions of employees’ well-being: physical, psychological and social.

Do you want to improve the level of well-being of the employees working in your company? Start from the environment they live in. The environment, infact, as also the OMS has recognized, highly affects the physical, mental and social state of humans. In the office design, as well, this concept has become essential to build the scaffold of a healthy and productive working ecosystem.

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Bio
Today’s office design is taking a step forward, in order to keep the workers healthy and therefore more productive. Problems and diseases of the musculoskeletal system due to wrong, long-lasting sitting positions, for example, are prevented by dynamic ways of working, agile workstations, sit-stand working desks, or unusual seats like the Technogym’s wellness ball or the ones that Kinnarps has presented at the last Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Also, the arrival of the IoT has played a fundamental role, helping to improve the quality of the air, the lighting and heating system, allowing also to personalize them through personal smartphones.
Moreover, other services in the office are thought to encourage the employee to take care of themselves: company restaurants with healthy menus and fully equipped gyms come along with wellness rooms and dedicated doctor’s appointment.

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Psychic
If you’ve never heard about happiness at work at work, probably you have been in another planet for the last years. The working environment and HR management get inspiration from the marketing and advertising industries as “creator of experiences”, while it resembles more and more to a theme park, where anyone can try fun and different things. The keyword is “human experience”, a mix of engagement, fulfillment, and empowerment, capable of successfully leading the company through the future challenges.

A new interesting trend comes from the new findings from neuroscience that have brought in the office a new concept of equipped relax areas, music, and spaces capable of reducing stress and facilitate concentration, even in noisy and dynamic open spaces.

Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

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Casual meeting as the occasion of new and original ideas. The office design aims to increase the chance of encounter among employees (in-between, break and informal meeting areas) and between the inside and the outside of the company (co-working spaces attracts external professionals while more frequently curious customers visit the exhibition spaces, attend classes or use the services offered by the company’s environment).

The symbol of the social experience of the workplace is the ever-present foosball table and the Dutch Plantronics office’s rehearsal room, while couches, armchairs and kitchen spaces enhance the home-feeling that a working space nowadays has to give. A good work-life balance, at last, helps to live more easily the working environment experience: company’s kindergartens, pets in the office, agile and smart working strategies are just some examples of the more and more blurred boundaries between office and private life.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Real Estate and the Human Experience in the office.

The workplace is more than a property, is a living ecosystem, where numerous experiences take place. The study by JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle’s brand name)Workplace powered by Human Experience” underlines three most important drivers: Engagement, Fulfilment and Empowerment. Real Estate is confirmed to be a powerful changing factor, leading a company through the present and future challenges.

“As workplace strategy moves from practical, design-based decision making to a more experience-led approach, expect an overlap with functions that have traditionally been the domain of HR teams. This will impact workspace design and decision-making”, with these words Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research di JLL Corporate Solutions, comments on their report “Workplace powered by Human Experience”.

The research was run over 40 client companies and 7.300 people (age 18-65), in 12 different countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, italy, Japan, India, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A. and Great Britain.

The study has found that there are three priorities to drive the change: Engagement, Empowerment and Fulfilment. Engagement means fostering a sense of commitment and creating mutual trust and kindness. Empowerment, instead, is about giving people a sense of control in their working environment and the opportunity to take the initiative, while fulfilment can be achieved making sure work feels comfortable “beyond the surface level of happiness”, giving the chance to grow professionally in a challenging environment.

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Some key findings of the research are that spaces dedicated to collaboration and teamwork have the strongest impact on productivity, that agility improve performance, and that effectiveness is linked to a low density in the workplace.
The innovative offices are the ones that offer a mixture of collaborative and community spaces, support services and creative environments. Additionally, 28% of the companies provide an incubator, a dedicated space enabling colleagues and external talent to develop personal projects while making use of the company infrastructure, support and advice.

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70% of the interviewed people agree that happiness at work is the key ingredient for a good human experience, while the 54% see positively Chief Happiness Officer should be fully devoted to employee wellbeing. While large corporations are still attractive, employees crave an entrepreneurial culture: 46% of employees aspire to work in a start-up environment.
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance” Marie Puybaraud concludes. “It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Biophilia and Mindful Design at Wellness17 (London, 9/5th).

Oliver Heath and Aidan Walker are two of the key speakers for the conference Wellness17 that will address main wellbeing issues in the workplace. From a mental and physiology perspective that pretends to improve our work life balance to a design approach to generate a healthier and more natural work space.
The leading event on wellness in the workplace, will return to London on 5th September 2017 at Credit Suisse.

Oliver Heath talks about Biophilic Design.

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The concept of Biophilia is becoming more present within the workplace as employers and employees alike seek healthier and more balanced working lives. Oliver Heath will discuss “The Science and Style of Biophilic design”. A new research that demonstrates how we can harness the human attraction to nature to reduce stress and aid recuperation by utilising Biophilic design principles. In this way we can make tangible benefits to the workplace including reducing costs such as absenteeism whilst improving productivity, engagement and happiness.

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Oliver Heath is Founder of Heath Design Ltd, an architectural and interior design practice combining three key strands: sustainable design, consumer engagement and communications to inspire the uptake of future thinking in the built environment. He stimulates the adoption of happier, healthier places to live and work. Oliver is currently a Biophilic Design ambassador for Interface flooring.

Photos: courtesy of Interface and HW Style.

Aidan Walker talks about Mindful Design.

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Aidan Walker, Director of Aidan Walker Associates and fellow of the Royal Society of Arts will share his thoughts on “Mindful Design. Principles in practice”. 

Leaders in business, education, hospitality, health and government are paying ever more careful attention to personal wellbeing. It can be about cranking up productivity, generating a new profit centre for guests who mistake luxury for inner solace, or reducing stress.
For workplace professionals and designers, the driving principle is changing from Sustainability to ‘Wellness’. With the ‘Seven C’s of Mindful Design’ Aidan Walker proposes a map of the new professional and personal landscape.

Aidan has practised Hatha Yoga, including a spell teaching, all his adult life, and in his 20s spent six years as a fully dedicated member of the Brahma Kumaris, living and teaching the principles of Raja Yoga. This has led to the publication of the book ‘The Ecology of the Soul’, and he is now working on developing its message to apply specifically to mindfulness in the practice of design.

Wellness17 will also focus on confronting mental health in the workplace, defining best practice, work-life balance, people, place, design and much more. Wellness17 builds on the success of Unwired’s Worktech series of conferences and encompasses all aspects of Wellness including Mind, Body and Spirit, addressing some of the most interesting and challenging subjects such as the stigma of mental health, taming technology, nutrition, design and much more.
Book now at the Wellness17 Early Bird rate and save £100!

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Can the office make us happy?

Happiness has become a big issue in nowadays working environments. From the new ways of working to the design of the spaces and the furniture, physical and mental wellbeing, creativity, interaction, stress reduction, corporate identity are some of the features creating a happier office and therefore a more productive one. A multidisciplinary approach has been used to combine different disciplines as neuroscience, botany, IoT, ergonomics and energy engineering. Is it that enough for a space to create happiness?

Defining happiness can be a tricky task and a lot of definitions have been given so far. Concerning the working environment, as Alexander Kjerulf said, happiness can be determined by two parameters: feeling the best in what we are doing and building a good relationship in a team. On the other hand, someone else considers it a summon of intense and brief positive emotions that we experiment during the day. Both these definitions feat perfectly with the trends that are transforming the office, changing it from a stressing environment to a space that wants to take care of its workers.

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There are several factors that push this changing: the working environment models from the new technology and e-companies, the different needs of the new generations, the new scientific and technological findings that keep on changing the all society and also the need to create a more appealing environment, capable to face the challenge of different workplaces where everyone can actually do his job, outside the office, such as coworking spaces or home.
As long as the office, also our life has changed and, along with it, our time has become more fluid, mixing working time and spare time, creating a new need to better define boundaries: smartworking has brought office in our home, but it has also brought the concept of home-feeling in the office: couches, table football, good restaurant, medical examinations, relaxing methods, playgrounds, and has also brought in all the world in general, opening the building to the city, capturing different instance from science, art, and different cultures. And also the concept of co-working seems now old now: we are, maybe, moving towards co-living.
Since we are talking about a working environment, these features have the goal to increase productivity and creativity: the new paradigm happiness = productivity has focused all the attention on the wellbeing of the human resource, considering design the key to this new happy productivity. Seats, desks, plants, flexible and dynamic furniture, a well-lighted, healthy environment, with informal spaces that always allow to meet someone and feel comfortable. It is a new kind of design, though. It is a hybrid design that has to give a shape to the scientifically and technological always new instance, creating a responsive and interactive space though the IoT.

people-meeting-plantronics-wow-webmagazineSo is it that enough to consider the wellbeing we are creating in the office a way to our happiness?
I think, even though it is undeniable that nowadays office is far better than the gray and has ones someone may remember, there is a risk that I want to point out.
Focusing too much on the physical and mental wellbeing of the individual, we might forget that happiness is a social deal, it is socially defined by every culture and every society has its own way to pursue it. So there are not standard or fixed solutions we can uncritically apply to every working situation.
The office space (allow me this, even if it sounds exaggerate) might become a beautiful golden cage where we get used to having everything we need, so attractive with all his feature that give us continuously rushes of dopamine: can we end up totally absorbed by the office?
Happiness is a matter of work-life balance and linking happiness to work it’s a risky business.
Although the innovations that will be present at the Salone Ufficio 2017, where the happiness topic will be present in the installation Work 3.0 – A Joyful Sense at Work, are a real breakthrough in the office design, a question is now aroused: an human-centre office will cause an office center kind of human?
Editorial by Gabriele Masi, anthropologist and journalist.

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Corporate culture shapes the space.

Happiness at work is a key characteristic for the success of every organization. Its recipe is made up of social, behavioral, psychological intangible elements and tangible ones such as the workspace. Some of those elements are well defined and applicable in the same way on other organizational contexts rather than be adapted to the organization.

The company culture is the most crucial element to make a better and happier work environment. It is the set of values, beliefs and behaviors within an organization that describes how people relate to each other, to achieve results, to interact with the space where they work.
Employees are more engaged in the workplace if they are supported by better company cultures.
The workplace is the physical element that contributes to happiness at work. It means design, amenities, colors, materiality and furniture selection.
Office space immediately signify if a company culture respects and values the comfort of its employees.
The company culture and office space work closely to create positive interactions within the workplace. They affect profoundly both the individual and the workforce. The workspace is a static and inanimate space in absence of a company culture that describes the behaviors within it. It also influences the relationship between people and office space utilization. The values of the company culture aggregate all different generations who work within the space.
The intangible aspects that company culture leads along with office space affect financial results.
Speaking of happiness at work, if the office space is the hardware the corporate culture is the software.

Companies like Facebook, Google and others have created amazing cultures and amenities to foster happiness at work and attract top talents.
Those amazing cultures need to be nurtured and the changes to achieve them can be expensive for companies but happier and more productive workers will pay off in the long run.
If employees are working in old furniture that signifies company is not valuing the employee experience.
Investing in the design of an office allows employees to understand where profits are being spent and creates a comfortable environment that helps to be happy at work.
Workplace amenities have become prevalent in office design as an indicator of exceptional company culture. A break room with some vending machines is not cutting it anymore as a nice place to which employees can retreat. A nap room can help employees to relax and disconnect from technology.

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At Zappos, company culture has given shape to the space in which employees work. Its office space doesn’t fit the usual design but shows values in which employees believe and create a comfortable environment for everyone.
These are four of the ten core values that have affected office spaces:
Create Fun and A Little Weirdnes.
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded.
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication.
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.
Zappos has traditionally used an open office design since its early startup stage. “We designed this office so that people can really customize the space to fit their team’s needs” said Rob Timoshuk, Director of Operations.

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In the offices of Spotify, the online music company in Stockholm, management delegated the design of the new offices to their employees, similarly to Zappos. The solution to separate open work spaces from corridors by using a mesh of wires, instead of using glass or walls expresses the value of transparency.

At InfoJobs’ offices in Barcelona the employees decided to give their meeting rooms names that correspond to the company’s values and decorate those rooms accordingly.
The room called “happiness” has nice pillows, blankets, flowers, books and yoga mats. It is the room where people can express themselves and experience a bit of happiness.
It’s easy to find, within a company, elements that express the corporate culture accidentally or on purpose. The orientation and shape of a table in a meeting room can signify cultural values: a rectangle table can mean a hierarchal structure whilst a circular table can mean a collaborative environment where collaboration is encouraged.

The best way to get 100% of the potentiality of a space and a company culture is to make them interact. At the center of everything there are always people who will live that space.

Text by Giovanni Battista Pozza, co-founder of Full Glass (Happiness Think Thank)

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Happiness at work. Geico awarded by GPTW.

Last March 3rd Great Place to Work made the list of the best companies to work for in Italy public. The list –large, medium and small companies- was drawn up on the basis of a questionnaire about the perceived quality of the work experience handed out to the employees. The survey considered the relation between managers and collaborators, how they are involved in their job and the relation with their colleagues.
The company climate is strictly related with happiness: the three pillars of wellbeing: social, economic and environmental, cannot be separated, as they define together the global gross happiness, according to the UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon.

Those leaders who enforce such prerequisites make the principle that positive attitudes between managers, collaborators and colleagues come from individual commitment and economically successful companies effective. There are several studies supportino this thesis. In Italy, organizations recording the highest levels of wellbeing of their workers have increased their turnover by 12,61%, (over the Italian average of 2,28%) thus confirming a trend that has been going on now for five years.
The recent GPTW’s survey was especially focused on the physical environment of the workplaces.

Geico was awarded for its best work environments.

Geico, a world leader in the design and manufacture of automated turnkey vehicle body painting plants, was awarded by its employees the best work environment.
Great Place To Work analyses the workplace perception at Geico related with the availability of high levels of concentration and privacy, and the possibility to flexible adapt to different worker’s needs and to reflect the corporate image.

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The design of the new offices close to Milan is a 360° answer to to the workers’ needs: flexible layouts, activity settings spaces, shared areas and private ones.
Not only functional solutions but answers focused on wellness and work-life balance (gardens, bistrot, relax areas, kitchenettes, and so on).

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It is estimated that one percentage point of enhanced perception of workplaces brings about an increase of 0,6-0.8 points in the perception of a “great place to work”.
The workplace impact on “happiness” isn’t an end in itself, but rather something that is reflected in the best performances of the organizational structure and economic out-turns.

Text by Antonino Borgese, Director of Great Place to Work® research.

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Laura’s Garden of Thoughts is the physical place in which thought processes take place. It is the physical space that Chairman Arabnia wanted to dedicate to his wife Laura and to his extended family: his employees. This is the very heart of Geico. Here the right side of his brain has free reign. This is where the company’s soul is.
2,000 square metres of beauty and wellbeing, an essential prelude before accessing the Pardis Innovation Centre, the perfect synthesis of emotions and creativity.
A meditation space, corporate gym, bistro area and cultural and entertainment area comprising an amphitheatre and a photo gallery make up this wonderful Zen garden.
Ideal for the physical and mental wellbeing of all those employed by Geico.

 

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No happy workplaces? Objection overruled.

Creating an happy workplace is one of the main focuses of the companies nowadays, even though there are still some objections against it. Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Wohoo Inc., and Happiness expert, has published in his LinkedIn profile an interesting video, collecting the 20 most common ones he usually deals with in his job. 

Talking about happiness at work the first objection is about his definition: what is happiness at work? Being danish, as Alexander Kjerulf, in the case, might help. The Scandinavian languages have a word for it, and it is Arbejdsglæde, and Kjerulf has made all his job about it. He is firmly convinced that happiness is just about doing something you are good at, that makes a positive difference in the world, together with great coworkers and teams. Or in other words, quoting a definition by Sonja Lyubomirsky, it is “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being at work, combined with a sense that one’s work life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile”.
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Talking about happiness someone may say that you can’t objectively measure it or that it is impossible to make everyone happy, also because most of the time people don’t know what makes them happy as well. However a lot of research have been made and a productive dialogue with workers can be a good solution. Also it is the goal of a leadership to educate team members in understanding what could really make them happy at work. And if the answer are different, it is useful to remember that “the only way to treat everybody the same is to that everybody differently”.
Moreover happiness can’t be considered a private matter: a lot of people wants to have the right to feel sad at work, considering the all parties, fun and games in the office trivial, frivolous, stupid or ridiculous. The true is that a negative or sad attitudine can affect all the team and the productivity of a company as different studies show.

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Happiness won’t make you selfish, complacent and lazy, but gives you the energy to be a good corporate citizen, to create a great team and to give a better customer service. It must be underlined as well that make people happy at work it is not just about fun, but also about showing them that they are doing a good job, showing that they work is meaningful, and giving them competences, training, skills to do a good job.It is also nonsense to try to keep the emotions out of the office. Emotions belong to the workplace as to the other spheres of an human life since they are the core of human beings and of the process of decision making.

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That is why being happy at work it is not impossible. Even though someone affirms that if you expect to be happy at work, you will be disappointed, the opposite it is actually true: if you expect to be happy, you will do something about it in your office and you’ll try to create or to find a workplace where you are happy.
As Kjerulf concludes: “Make your happiness your n°1 carrier goal or, if you are a leader, make happiness the number 1 goal of your leadership”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Can music increase the productivity?

Music can be really an help in a working environment, lowering the stress, improving concentration, giving energy and, as it was shown by different academical studies and by the experience of Plantonics and Spotify, increasing the productivity. Anyway not all the musics are suitable for the office and not all the jobs are “music-friendly”. In general the findings say that a free and personal listening should be encourage.

Since school, music in a working environment has made always turn up someone’s nose. Today, though, thanks to different studies carried out by different academic institutions, as the british University of Sheffield and the Canadian University of Windsor from the 70s, this idea has made way to different considerations.
“The effects of the music over the mood and the motivan are indisputable”, Philip Vanhoutte, EMEA Managing Director di Plantronics, recently affirmed. “That is because music shares with life the concept of a ripetitive rhythm and has the same language of the thought”, the pianist Giulio Cassano, that will open the WOW! Concert of the 21st May, added.

Music, of course, has a wide spectrum of different kinds, and not all of these are suitable for working: classical and ambient electronica music, for its constant rhythmic patterns, along with video game music and natural soundscape are perfect for repetitive kind of jobs.
Music helps to lower the stress, evoking positive sensations and, as Teresa Lesiuk of the University of Windsor demonstrates, if the employees are free to listen to it “when they want as they want”, it helps to promote the happiness in the workplace.
The jobs the music have a better impact on are the ones where a good capacity of focusing is required, as computer designer, or creative or ripetitive ones, while it can have a negative effects on roles which have to deal with people, as directors, making managers or secretaries.
Lastly it is worths to underline that lyrics, high volume and excessive guitar riffs are detrimental, but a medium volume helps also to isolate himself from a noisy working environment.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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From B2B to H2H. New outlooks for successful companies.

March 20th celebrates the International Day of Happiness resolved by United Nations General Assembly since 2012 to promote this fundamental human need and to define a new Economic Paradigm ,because economic, social and environmental well-being are not divisible.
The International Day of Happiness is also an opportunity to think upon the concept of Happiness at work: an invaluable lever for success, as proved by those companies following policies that take into consideration the employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

The B2B view doesn’t meet the human beings’ requirements, so a H2H (Human to Human) approach should be chosen by those firms who to flourish, and everybody knows that requirements and human relations are the heart of any business.
Profit and productivity as only goals reveal the organization’s weekness, because people work better and more willingly when they are contented, because they work in a positive climate and feel wanted and respected as human beings.
We posted several case studies of Human Centered companies (Mattel, Sace, Technogym, Coca Cola, for instance).
Great Place to Work awarded every year the Best Companies that have found a new way of being entrepreneurs, not only focused on managerial and productive factors, but also on the relation with the employees, whom they look after like loving mums, offering them life quality, a peaceful ambience, friendly and sustainable surroundings, and great importance is attached to work-life balance, motivation and engagement.
These were the themes of the Jelly Session, “Ten rules for ergonomic design in smart working places” that gave rise to many hints and a lot of different meanings of ergonomics and health procurement.
Ergonomics has taken a holistic nature in the age of Agile Working and even the youngest people are very aware of this issue, as proved by the study carried out by Kinnarps: for Millennials wellbeing is as important as a high pay.
So H2H means that people and their wellbeing prevail over profit.

Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.

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Hoverboards in the warehouse: increasing productivity with fun.

Work in the warehouse of a company has to be fast, efficient and, nowadays, fun. PMC Telecom in the UK has chosen hoverboards to improve the productivity, their service, and the satisfaction of their employees. We asked Steve Mills, PMC Telecom’s Digital Marketing Manager, few questions about their initiative.

How did you come up with the idea of the hoverboards?
PMC Telecom have been “selling on service since 1991”, that’s been our company motto since then, and we continue to uphold this even today.We never planned to introduce hoverboards as a long term thing but we are really open minded and when Garrod, our Warehouse Manager requested one, we were happy to do a trial”.

How was the impact of hoverboards? How did it increase the productivity?
The “hoverboard” or “self balancing scooter” has gone down an absolute storm at PMC. Garrod has been trying the technology for around 2 months now, and so far so good. Productivity has increased massively, and our staff are happier, because, let’s face it, they are fun. Happier staff are more productive workers, so there is always that’s positive. At PMC Telecom we sell a very wide range of products and our warehouse staff spend a long time walking up and down the warehouse. This has been cut significantly, Garrod has become quite the expert on it in particular being able to move from one side of our large warehouse to the other, in a fraction of the time.

Does the use of the hoverboards have any sort of impact on the space?
Health and safety is a really important to us at PMC Telecom. Due to this we ensure there is ample space on the walkways and all walkways are cleared. We have really high standards anyway though and have a really small and dedicated team, so to us this hasn’t really affected us as its business as usual.

Have you done before other initiatives like this one?
Ours is a very dynamic job. That’s why we allow all our staff to have whichever top of the range headset they like, so they are comfortable when on the phone, and when not on the phone can listen to high quality music if they like. We also have 39” flat screen TVs in every room connected to Chromecasts, this enables us to display the latest offers available for our sales staff, use them for snap powerpoint presentations, or even just display nice interchangeable background pictures to brighten up the office.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Anthropodesign: design, for mankind and environment.

Francesco Schianchi, the author of the essay “Quando l’uomo inventò l’uomo” summed up his analysis for WOW!: a clear view of Design, that hopes for the change of the customary product design into Anthropodesign: a design, for mankind, environment and the future and able to produce happiness.

The word Design derives from Latin: “de”  and “signum”  the production of “signs,”  identifying elements, of wonder.
Design isn’t a discipline, but a language of thought. To think is to live, to think is to “help” create man, as persona, the maker of his own present and his own future, it is “used” to express feeling, dream project, uselessness, play and imagination.
Design means to plan, as synthesis of intuition, imagination, invention, reasoning, realization of art-facts.
Design means to plan man’s “forms of life”and for the others, to propose concepts and wishes, that give concrete form to material and immaterial products.

That’s why the “traditional” design should change into anthropodesign, design called to “plan a good, beautiful, useful and happy life”. So that technique has a sense and can enter the history of man.
Also, design is the content of contemporary society and has a purpose: to produce happiness.
The concept of happiness can be both considered as a man’s sentiment, that aims at expressing his wish of unlimited expansion/fulfilment, and as a basic condition of his relational nature. That is the “planning matter” of contemporary design.
Text by Francesco Schianchi

Some examples of Anthropodesign, captions:

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1,The
Safety Truck Samsung was created by Leo Burnett / Buenos Aires for Samsung’s Argentinian corporate office to promote road safety. It consists of a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night.This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake. Another advantage of the Safety Truck is that it may reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road.

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2, The Dutch architect Daan Roosegaarde Studio creates clean air and Smog Free Rings at the opening of the Smog Free Project in Rotterdam. The largest smog vacuum cleaner in the world. The Smog Free Project creates clean urban skies and creates Smog Free Rings. it produces smog-free bubbles of public space, allowing people to breathe and experience clean air for free. The first 7 meter high Smog Free Tower cleans 30.000m3 of air per hour of ultra-fine smog, uses no more electrici- ty than a water boiler, and runs on green energy.

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3, Solar Bottle, designed by Alberto Meda and Francisco Gomez Paz, is a low-cost container capable of disinfecting water for people consuming microbiologically contaminated raw water; based in the Solar Water Disinfection process SODIS , which uses solar energy to destroy the pathogenic microorganisms causing water borne diseases such us typhus, dysentery and cholera. Pathogens are vulnerable to 2 effects of the sunlight: UV-A radiation and heating by infrared rays. Solar Bottle improves the solar purification process. The large surface augments the UV-A rays collection and the reflective face absorbs infrared rays, improving temperature and disinfection. The reduced thickness of the bottle facilitates both transportation and storage.

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Are we really productive? And how do we make the most of the time gained with productivity? 

I always feel deep admiration for those Anglo-Saxon studies that succeed in “quantizing” even values apparently immaterial and not measurable with great professional competence.
For example,“the field” research carried out by Marlon Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University in three different workplaces shows that green in the office increases productivity by 15%, as common sense and instinct have always suggested – is there anyone who has never put a plant on their desk? – and now it has been scientifically proved.
Productivity is often the focus of this kind of studies and the theme of many articles.
We are fascinated by the Myth of Productivity, we all feel hyper-productive, but are we fully conscious of what productivity really is? 

Are we sure we don’t confuse it with multitasking, with that anxious bustling about, the uncontrolled overlapping of more tasks, the “obligation” to devote more and more time to work in the vain attempt to progress in the “things to do” list, inevitably growing every day longer?
Let’s face it, there is a good dose of smugness in our complaining all the time about too much work, about having to rush things and not achieving enough to schedule!
This unanimous attitude suggests a few remarks.
The first one, well-known, is that to work a lot doesn’t mean to be productive. On this point, the “Why Germans work fewer hours but produce more” article is quite interesting.
The second one concerns the fact that techniques and method are requested to learn how to be productive. Feeling up to Superman or Superwoman, rushing or bustling about 12 hours a day, is not enough.
A few useful tips ca be found in 14 things productive people do in the first 15 minutes of the workday an interesting article listing the first things productive people do in the morning. An example to follow.
However, the actual issue is something else: even supposing we really are productive productivity is time-saving and time is the greatest value in our society, not only because time is money but most of all because it is limited!
But how do we use this “value”?
How do we spend time gained thanks to our techniques and rites devoted to the Productivity Goddess?
If, catched in this frenzy, we devote more and more time to work to be always productive, there is something perverted…
And the general feeling perceived by someone who thinks to be productive is not synonymous with a better standard quality of life!
Why waste the time/value “gained” thanks to our skill?
Let’s try to “quantize” the time we could save and “investi itin our wellbeing, so that productivity can really create quality.
Some might spend their time reading a book, or with their family; some can devote it to themselves and some to acts of solidarity.
There is not one formula, for our wellbeing and happiness it’s important to know where the time saved with productivity ends up.
Text by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.migliorare-produttività

Are You Having Fun Yet

Happiness at work: a couple of tips by the Happiness Experts.

In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly has passed resolution appointing 20th March as International Happiness Day. We all have the right to be happy at work too, because it brings benefits to creativity, productivity and health.

Searching the Web for the theme Happiness at Work you find a remarkable choice of hints and viewpoints on the subject. The theme should not be neglected: according to American Institute of Stress 75% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems at work, as shown by “Happiness at Work” a film by Martin Meissonier from Productions Campagne Premier.
The most authoritative and spiritual voice remains Dalai Lama’s with his book “The Art of Happiness at Work” but other lay sources, although less profound, expand the advice scenario, including a few targeted blogs, in Italian language too.
Science shows that happier brains work better. Happier people are more productive, creative, insightful, resilient, sociable, and successful. They are healthier and live longer.
Alexander Kjerulf, Happiness Expert, in a long (one hour) interview focused on the important role plays by the workplace “There are workplaces out there that are slowly killing their people. This is morally and ethically wrong.” and adds “Hours are bullshit. Results are all that matter.”Success doesn’t lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.”
We infer that smart working and agile work are an almost necessary basis for happiness. The path to happiness may start by becoming aware of one’s unhappiness through Top 10 signs you’re unhappy at work listed by Alexander Kjerulf in his article posted in The Chief Happiness Officer Blog:
1 You procrastinate;
2 You spend Sunday night worrying about Monday morning;
3 You’re really competitive about salary and titles;
4 You don’t feel like helping co-workers;
5 Work days feel looooong;
6 You have no friends at work;
7 You don’t care. About anything;
8 Small things bug you;
9 You’re suspicious of other people’s motives;
10 Physical symptoms (insomnia, headaches, low energy, muscle tension…)
If you identify with one or more of these signs, it’s time you apply yourself to find your happiness. The Mamma Felice blog suggest 5 ways for being happier at work:
1 Establish nice relations with your colleagues;
2 Unplug at lunch break;
3 Smile while on the phone;
4 Say no and don’t make promises you won’t keep;
5 Learn new things and don’t be mentally lazy.
Should all that not be enough, then go to point 6: change your job.

For people, who are really in a hurry, some say you can meet with success in just three minutes.
Scott Crabtree in “The Science of being happy at work in three minutes” agrees on the fact that happiness is mostly a choice and it depens upon what you think and do; he suggests a daily 3-step “exercise”.
“First, make progress toward goals that are important to you. We think achieving our goals will make us happy. It does, but not as happy as we think… Don’t multi-task.
Second, practice positivity. That means having a good attitude, looking at the bright side, and being optimistic.
Third, prioritize people and relationships. The strongest influence on your happiness is the quality of your relationships”.
Do you need more concrete tips?
Here are “4 Tips for being happier at Work” by Bite Size Wellness:
1 Stop Thinking About Money;
2 Eat High Quality Foods;
3 Let Go of the Final Results;
4 Force a Smile.
Keep on searching the web and share your tips. I close my article suggesting “Happiness at work is about Balance” by the blogger Catherine who quote the US psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who used “Flow” as the state of Happiness that we’re all looking for and explains that Balance is the key to happiness, personal balance and work-life balance.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

 

 

 

 

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Tips for a happier 2014… or at least, greater fun.

2013 is nearly over. I can say it was a Hard year, in spite of some satisfaction. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being multitasking and I can’t take the anxiety and impotence I’m sized with every day when checking a longer and longer list of “urgent things to do”. Excuse me for being self-regarding.
The end of the year is a time for inventory, gifts and good intentions: I’ll try to give a few tips for a happier 2014, or a “Lighter” one, at least.
Mindfulness
could be a possibility, yet this technique obviously requires great care and the result is not direct (I’m reding the very interesting book “Search inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan).
Waiting to reach True Happiness, let’s not focus on the negative and let’s settle for a less tiresome way of living.
On this point, could be useful these 10 Ways To Make Your Office More Fun by Miles Kohrman posted in FastCompany, with data on the tangible effects of fun in increasing workplace happiness and productivity (WOW! have published some articles about this topic).
First of the 10 tips is Dog at Work (WOW! agrees!) followed by happy hours and communal lunches, gruop exercise, funny decoration of your office (like the balloon-office in the photo Florian Boyd or the Aluminium foil office prank).

You might find these hints a bit student’s, but the effect is certain.
Some Companies include even fun among their shared values (ConTe, for example created the Ministers of Fun, who organize events and parties).
I know that fun is not synonymous with happiness, but a laughter is always good for one’s health and… quoting Bakunin, “it will bury” those, who don’t agree.
Interactive editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

 

 

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Mindfulness means happiness at work.

The meeting “Tecniche coraggiose per un lavoro più felice”(bold techniques for a happier work), organized by Mida and Mosaic last November 28th, was a request to consider the possible use of Mindfulness at work,

which means to be aware, concentrated, balanced, stable, able to free one’s mind from anxiety-inducing thoughts and come to terms with the ups and downs of life.
For this reason Mida and Mosaic have created the project MindfulLab .

In short: happiness is not a consequence of wealth; maybe “there is a crisis because we are unhappy”, and we lost our Western Identity and real sense of happiness.
At the presentation of the Italian edition of “Search inside Yourself. The unexpected path to achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace by Chade-Meng Tan, (HR manager Google Corporation) the speakers related their own experiences.
Alessandro Zollo, explained that Great Place to Work companies show three times better performances.
Francesca Carimati related the application of Mindfulness technics in Mediaset to change the corporate negative mood by working one one’s self-consciousness and the whole of one’s relations.
Ottaviano Di Cicco presented the vision of Google, that allots 20% of the working time to happiness and creative projects, thus proving that Emotional Intelligence enables every employee to feel driven, free to express themselves and therefore more creative.
Pierangelo Pagella, Unicredit reported some scientific studies proving the importance of Mindfulness at work and introduces the theme of energy exchange between people and the physical space explaining the new relax and concentration areas designed in the new headquarters in Milan.
However, the meeting shows that the most suitable “space” is the mental environment, silence and breathing, that allow us to “stay” balanced in the present.
Text by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

When I look out the window I’m working.

”How do I explain to my wife that when I look out the window I’m working?” Quoting the well-known query raised by Joseph Conrad, Domenico De Masi spoils a few certainties and Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli confirms “Work is a state of being, not a place!”

The settings opened by Domenico De Masi, Michele Bonfiglioli, Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli, Enrico Cietta, Alberto De Zan, Roberto Zuccato, Luisa Bocchietto, and Renata Sias, on the occasion of the conference “Investire nell’ufficio fa bene all’azienda” (Investing in the office is good for the company) were really stimulating, and the results of the study “Lo spazio di lavoro come investimento produttivo”(work space as a productive investment) were presented there.
There is no progress without happiness
, said prof De Masi, but we seem to be depressed and nonplussed, instead of planning the future we are just waiting for it to happen. We must work out new models, but which ones? We cannot apply old rules and new models. Work is destructured and the same should do the room where it takes place; motivation is needed to improve production, not the control, and also a “creative idleness” plays an important role.
Michele Bonfiglioli AD of Bonfiglioli Consulting investigates the theme of new models by offering the Lean approach to eliminate waste of time and space. “However, a streamlined organization requires a strong Core Value from the management.
Flexible Time and Smart Working are the key concepts in case history of Tetra Pak explained by Gianmaurizio Cazzarolli, Director, Human Resource and Services Tetra Pak, the company winner of Smart Working Awards and Great Place To Work Awards. Tetra Pak makes use of a system of measurement by objectives with a variable wage and has planned the organization on concepts of assumption of responsibilities and self-management, work-life balance, trust, transparency and flexibility also for production. Obviousley, the top management must believe and share this culture and the offices are designed to suit and make these WOWs (Ways Of Working) easier.

The meeting in Treviso is the consistent continuation with the two previous workshops “Smart & Happy Office” “Felicità e produttività in ufficio” organized by Assufficio in Milan during 2013.

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Happiness and productivity in the office.

The subject of happiness has come up again during the 2nd Forum FederlegnoArredo by Assufficio (June 13th, Milan). On the speaker’s rostrum, four happiness-creating experiences quite different one from the other; the common denominator is the value attached to the physical, working space, a catalyst of corporate values, people’s wellbeing, efficiency, therefore of productivity, as well. The speakers explained the indicators that show the effective connection between staff’s happiness and increased productivity,  the ways of mapping happiness and what advantages the company can have, when its employees ”don’t hate Mondays”.
Time, space, freedom and value produced by everyone with their work are decisive factors in the work-life balance and create happiness, as emerged from the speeches of Stefano Luisotti President and AD di Welcome Italia, Paolo Davoglio, Office & Facilities Supervisor of Mattel Italia.
This evidence is followed by the declarations of people, who didn’t find in big companies the answers for their professional growth and have consequently chosen to leave and create new happiness-giving experiences Riccarda Zezza, Founder of the coworking Piano C, Francesca Zampone, Coacher and founder of Accademia –Felicità.