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Here is the well-workplace age: wellness, wellbeing and corporate welfare.

“Well” is now definitely used a lot in the context of lifestyle and, most al off, workstyle patterns.
Well-being, mankind’s prime concern, is modeling a new approach to the design of the workplace and the built environment.
There are ethical as well as economic reasons: we should not hide the fact that sustainability (and certifications, too!)and wellness are big business and marketing elements increasing the value of buildings. And employees more productive if they are fine.

It’s not just a trend, it’s a new widespread sensibility, that entails a different relation with the environment you live in.
A shared awareness is often synonymous with sustainability, yet “Sustainability is a means, man’s wellbeing is the objectiveGiovanni Fabris, founder of Welldome, quoted during the WellFerence conference.
The vision of wellbeing at work, mistaken for ergonomics for a long time, is now mostly oriented to health and prevention of diseases, but even physical, mental and social wellbeing is also taken into consideration.
This holistic view makes use of a measuring instrument thanks to the Well certification protocol.
Quality of life also refers to Corporate Welfare, not so long ago an approach made of a mix of sporadic projects targeted to the staff’s wellbeing. A concept that has recently developed into an actual organic and balanced system of staff management, adopted by big corporations but also small concerns.
WOW has often dealt with this subject and followed its evolution in the past five years.
IFMA, too, has discussed about wellbeing research, the way demand for welfare has changed and how it has affected the supply of services related to the staff’s wellbeing. ”Wellbeing means Culture, and that should not be disregarded, as it is strictly connected with communication and how the company is perceived”.
To produce wellbeing is a “work in progress”, don’t delude yourselves, there are no effective remedies, as shown by the Maslow Pyramid, still relevant after over sixty years, once realized our basic needs, new necessities arise, for the concept of wellbeing is ever-evolving, at work, too.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

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#addmorecolour: a range of 302!

“Colors are food for thought!” says Christina Wiklund, and Kinnarps Color Studio is the tool for easy access to a wide range of colors and sustainable, creative and cool materials: over 300 colors and sustainable materials to create environments with different color personalities.

The intuition that colors influence our perception, our behavior and wellbeing is rooted in the culture of Kinnarps, this is why every three years the company updates the colors and finishes of its collection to anticipate trends and fashion. The 2017 update for the first time was created in teams involving 15 architecture and interior design studios (Tengbom, Wingårdhs, Krok & Tjäder, Semrén & Månsson, Spectrum, Note and White offices together with the designers Howl Designstudio, Idesign, Propeller e Brodbeck Design and the interior designer and blogger Hildur Blad) and has led to the insertion of 9 new fabrics into the already rich portfolio.

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“Our inspiring Kinnarps Colour Studio range gives you everything you could wish for in the way of creative and attractive materials (fabric, leather, laminate, veneer, metal, acrylics, plastic and glass). This sustainable collection with a wide choice of colours and patterns combines classic elegance with the latest trends. Everything you need to find the look that suits your environment”, explains Christina Wiklund, CMF Manager-Colour Material Finish in Kinnarps.
240 soft material variants, 54 hard material variants, 8 accent colors: over 300 finishes are available to “dress” the products by Kinnarps.

 

The website page “tools and resources” makes available to architects and designers this color universe and is also possible to download the dwg of all Kinnarps products.
The starting point is the insight that colours affect our behaviour and our feelings, along with the requirement for the sustainability, quality and safety of the materials. The Kinnarps collection is updated every three years, and it was time to do this again for 2017.
The colours make a major impact on how we experience interior design. Now, as many are daring to leave white behind, it is, of course, even more important to have both a planned strategy and an updated range in order to be able to design with colour. This new way of collaborating with architects and designers strengthens Kinnarps’ position even more. Our meetings have been both creative and fun and everyone really gave some of themselves.” said Hildur Blad, Interior designer, colour expert and blogger.

 

“It’s always the totality that determines which fabrics we decide to launch in Kinnarps Colour Studio. They should of course have the right colours and patterns, but also fulfil our requirements for sustainability, quality and safety. I always say that we should think of things our customers perhaps don’t always think of, so that they can feel sure that our textiles are always a safe choice – in terms of both aesthetics, function , environment and social responsibility.” explains Christina Calisir, Technical Manager Cover Materials, Kinnarps.

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Nine new trendy and sustainable fabrics.

Among 200 different seat cover textiles, the designers involved in the workshop selected the 9 new fabrics:
Step Melange, multicolored for a modern retro;
Rustico, durable, washable and multicolored;
Fenice, produced with recycled wool and eco-sustainable production processes;
Liv, reminiscent classic linen, but very functional washable fabric in Trevira CS;
Capture, vintage classic washable and fire resistant;
Fox, a very fashionable pattern inspired by art deco;
Bardal, antistatic and fire resistant wool in sober colors;
Synergy, wool in many colors for an ecological design;
Steelcut Trio, natural wool, a clear favorite of the architects.

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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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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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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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A storage system that integrates “smart plants”.

The Dieffebis stand at Salone Ufficio, designed by 967, was like an amazing greenhouse; the plants evoke the green culture and the wellness-oriented vision of the company. This vision inspired a new biophilic version of Dotbox, a masterpiece of modular storage systems, that now can integrate planters equipped with air purification system.

Plants make more pleasant the workspace and make a better air quality, too. This is why DotBox integrates a “smart pot” with Itair® technology, an innovative natural air purification system for indoor environments.
Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things) the plant are connected to a computer and becomes a real filter able to metabolize harmful agents present in the air provides for a forced mechanical ventilation.

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DotBox is a multifunctional, modular and flexible storage system able to configure workspaces, made of sheet steel laser-cut, fully recyclable. It can also be customized with pillows and panels in different shapes, colors and fabrics, including fireproof and sound absorbing. It allows to efficiently organize the space with a unique personality.

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“Be”, being well: a human-centred redevelopment.

Being well, productive, connected, innovative: the verb “to Be” is the centre of the contemporary workplace. The requalification of the business district in Cassina De’ Pecchi, next to Milan, by InvestiRE, design a modern vital village, thought to promote a productive interaction and wealthy working environment, through different services and integrating the outdoor and indoor space in the same concept. CBRE is the exclusive agent.

Nowadays revitalizing a working environment can’t be just about re-designing spaces and furniture. Evening if the “packaging” still plays a fundamental role, the core of the Real Estate project must be the “human experience” created by integrating internal and external spaces and services given by the company.

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That’s the concept that has driven the project of the requalification of the 40.000 sqm of the business district in Via Roma 108 in Cassina de’ Pecchi, few kilometers from Milano: productivity, engagement, and collaboration, good health and well-being practices for the people, all these key concepts of the modern workspace are expressed in the simple name that has been chosen: “Be”.

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The main building, re-designed by Park Associati, is created to promote socialization and collaboration, balancing private spaces with different environment to share among the companies and external professionals: co-working, meeting rooms, temporary offices and event rooms (up to 110 people).

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The peculiarity of the project, however, is the focus on the wellbeing and on the work-life balance of the workers. Along with dedicated space and services such as an healthy restaurant, a full-equipped gym and a nursery school, outiside pedestrian walkways pass through a private green park, with movable and fixed facilities, that aims to create a “continuum” between the space indoor and outdoor, recalling the idea of “The Walk by De Lucchi of a “peripatetic office”.
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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Global Change: nature-inspired, biophilic flooring.

Global Change is Interface’s most versatile collection to-date, launched during last NeoCon. It was designed by Kari Pei, the company’s Lead Product Designer, and pairing nature-inspired biophilic design with Interface’s modular flooring system expertise. The collection offers architects and designers the ability to bring biophilic flooring into their spaces, leading to more positive experiences and improved wellbeing for the people who use them.

Biophilia is a growing trend in interior design and architecture, but we can not say that the “innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life” is a novelty indeed. This scientific hypothesis was introduced by Edward O. Wilson in 1984.
Interface has been among the first companies to intercept this philosophy and has been applying biophilic design approach for several years in its textile flooring systems.
Global Change is the last collection by Interface, launched at NeoCon 2017 and offers an integrated range of design options that can be composed to solve a variety of unique business challenges.
The collection evokes foliage through artistic interpretation of tree and leaf shading patterns. Biophilic elements and references are also reflected in random patterns and fluid transitions inspired by natural textures.


Global Change is comprised of seven face styles available in six organic color palettes. Progression 1, 2,3, the collection’s foundational tiles, offer three gradated base textures at three different price points and pile heights.
Glazing and Shading take inspiration from the tree canopy with foliage appearing as positive shapes against striations of texture.
Ground and Raku resemble the cracked appearance of dried earth and can be installed as non-directional squares.
The styles are available in a mixture of 50cm x 50 cm squares and 25cm x 100cm Skinny PlanksTM, ranging from flat to plush. To complement the seven face tiles, the Interface design team developed six earthy, mineral-based colors for the collection, inspired by global trends:
Eclipse, Evening Dusk, Desert Shadow, Fawn, Daylight and Morning Mist.
Global Change has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any of Interface’s global collections to-date. and is in line with Interface’s sustainability commitments.
Global Change takes the end-user on a journey from the forest to the coast, offering beautiful aesthetics that also deliver modular versatility and functionality – Kari Pei quoted – Each product within the collection was designed to harmoniously blend into the next, and the collection has the unique ability to adapt as design and tastes evolve.”

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10 trends for the future workplace.

A useful tool for employers for navigating in a landscape that is constantly evolving: Global Workplace Trends Report 2017 by Sodexo traces 10 main fields of innovation for the workplace, a roadmap to increase productivity, wellbeing, and quality of life comparing the current situation with future scenarios.

Clear and fast changes are happening in the conception of the working environment, although it is not easy to always understand which are the best trends for a company or how to apply them fruitfully. Sodexo, along with several experts of Columbia University, University of Granada, Harvard Center for Work e United Nations Foundation, has run a survey to help employers to make the best decisions, enlightening 10 main trends evolving different topics such as migrants, millennials, robots, environment, new technologies and social transformations:

1. Putting design thinking principles to work.
Design thinking has become a critical strategic imperative for organizations looking to put the employee experience first, rethinking all elements of the workplace.  Every aspect has to be designed considering the employee’s experience at first. Health and well-being become the foundation for designing workplaces that contribute to worker’s happiness and wellness.

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2. Unlocking the potential of millennial talent
By 2025 millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce, therefore companies are engaged in creating a culture where millennials employers are benefiting from the collaboration, creativity, and authenticity. Start-ups are representing a model for bigger enterprises that offer more freedom, flexibility, and mobility, encouraging millennial employees from taking the initiative on a new project, or even from having side jobs. That makes them more entrepreneurial (and provides a sense of freedom.

3. The agile organization.
In a recent study, Accenture has pointed out the companies with higher levels of both stabilizing structural backbone and velocity were 436 percent likelier to be seen as outstanding financial performers in their industries than those that lacked both. Agility is going to be the mode of operating of the future companies.

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4. The rise of cross-workplaces
Interaction is one of the main mantras of nowadays offices. Cross-working is encouraging employees to interact with a wide range of people across an organization to spark innovation and therefore new products, new processes, new services, new ways of organizing and new ways of thinking.

5. Employees without borders.
Corporations can play an important role in promoting a sense of belonging and a culture of inclusion among their workforces. Organizations are more frequently welcoming migrants into the workforce and leveraging their talents with an understanding of their immense value proposition. In the years ahead, those companies that already have corporate cultures with deep foundations in diversity and inclusion will be best suited to rise up to help their communities and to create innovative cross-cultural ways of thinking.

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6. The new generation of robotics.
Is the robotic a threat for employees? As the workplace becomes increasingly automated in the endless drive for greater efficiency and productivity, an anxious workforce worries that the machines mean human workers will be out of work. The future can be different: instead of wholesale personnel downsizing, employers will train and develop their people to empower workers to take on new and different roles.

7. Intergenerational learning.
The norms of work-related learning challenge the wisdom that older people teach while younger people learn: now workers of all ages contribute to one another, establishing longer and more dynamic careers that defy generational stereotypes. Intergenerational agility is a critical issue: by 2030, the percentage of the population aged 60 and over is expected to leap, from 12.3 percent in 2015 to 16.5 percent, and companies will be called to focus on successfully developing and managing a multigenerational workforce.

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8. Personal branding goes to work.
Personal and corporate brands are now overlapping, as organizations realize the value of the influencers in their workforce. It has been shown that brand messages are reshared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees. In the future will see a rise of companies with social employee advocacy programs, social listening programs and professional development plans that include instructions and governance models on how employees can enhance their personal brands while supporting company goals.

9. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Companies are called to an important social role: sustainable development is increasingly recognized as the legitimate responsibility of businesses. Organizations are becoming more creative, committed and consistently visible when it comes to sustainable development, alongside innovation and technology.

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10 Wellness 3.0.
As the boundaries between work and life continue to blur, today’s workers are seeking out a new and improved employee value proposition that includes a focus on all aspects of health and well-being.  And so employers are taking holistic approaches to workplace wellness, developing customized wellness programs that look at worker wellness as a true advantage.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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When design-bulimia replaces innovation.

I’ve now fully recovered  from the usual indigestion from design in April, so a few considerations on the Milan Design Week are almost de riguer. I must admit it: after attending 40 of them, my enthusiasm and curiosity are beginning to wane, but my impressions have been confirmed by the comments of WOW! reporters and some practitioners I hold in high esteem; to mention just one of them, the sharp “Perlina” posted on Facebook by Enrico Baleri, which I find incomparable.

First of all I’d like to congratulate the Salone del Mobile on its new attendance record (343.602 visitors!).
Many exhibitors actively contribute toward this success through their luxurious stand booths, conceived by important designers as temporary architectures, able to attract visitors and emotionally involve them.
In many cases the design of the container seems to be prevailing over the products, that hardly palpitate with true innovation even if their quality is top-notch.
Many companies stop to invest in technological research.
Kartell should be mentioned as one of the exceptions: under the title “Contaminations” ( upper photo) it presented many nice and innocvative chairs… and it is not easy to offer quality and quantity!
The dangers lurk when the company has run out of ideas and dusts off the look of the fifties, or penetrates fields that defy common sense and ergonomics, bordering on ridicule.

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And I’m sorry I have to say that Alias is following this trend. Hybrid design is okay, but how can you even conceive a chair -uncomfortable- integrated inside a bookcase?
That could be explained by the obligation to present something new at all costs.
Maybe we should also reflect upon the very format of the“Fair”: is such a rigid subdivision in different furniture sectors still relevant? Isn’t it anachronistic compared to the fluid way living, working and recreation environments are blending?
For example why Lapalma presented its “Light Office” collection at Salone del Mobile instead at Workplace 3.0?
If the office is increasingly fluid –as the installation A Joyful Sense at Work confirmed- changing a somewhat outdated format might increase its attractiveness: what do you think about a more dynamic Salone Contract & Workplace?

And then there is the festive occupation of the Fuorisalone… son et lumière everywhere in the city, amazing installations that can enhance disused locations, yet also damage historic buildings with ugly setups fit for a funfair.

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I’ve asked about dozen people lying on sofas inside the Orto Botanico in Brera: “Excuse me, do you know the name of the manufacturer of these sofas?” Answer: eyes wide open and an uninterested “no idea!”.
Unfortunately that company (who was it?) invested money for attending that location…
I’m considering writing a “Guide to prevent design-bulimia”. It could be useful.

Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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Storage systems, plants and air quality (Dieffebi, hall 24, B19 / B23 stand).

At Salone del Mobile (hall 24, stand B19 / B23) Dieffebi will show new features for DotBox for a Workplace 3.0 devoted to wellbeing. The flexible storage system able to configure workspaces, today integrates planters equipped with air purification system.

Plants and vegetation inside workplace help to improve air quality, contributing to wellbeing and productivity.This is why DotBox integrates now a “smart pot” with Itair® technology, an innovative natural air purification system for indoor environments.
Plants make more pleasant the workspace and make a better air quality, too.
The plant becomes a real filter able to metabolize harmful agents present in the air and, thanks to Itair® technology, provides for a forced mechanical ventilation.

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DotBox is a multifunctional modular storage system made of sheet steel laser-cut, fully recyclable. It can also be customized with pillows and panels in different shapes, colors and fabrics, including fireproof and sound absorbing. It allows to efficiently organize the space with a unique personality.

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Chakra modular acoustic oasis (Universal Selecta (hall 24, stand D8/D10).

Universal Selecta takes part to Salone del Mobile (hall 24, stand D8/D10) to launch the unpublished features of Chakra, an architectural modular system for interiors supplied in kit which allows to create, quickly and easily, bespoke oasis of privacy. The philosophic concept of “The Inner Sound”, symbol of harmony and wellbeing now comes inside the Workplace 3.0.

How is it possible to transform a noisy open space in an acoustically perfect environment?Chakra is a new typology of prefabricated partition system, covered by 5 patents, freestanding and technologically evolved, it requires no anchors on the ceiling nor on the floor.


It defines areas of privacy and ensures ideal conditions of acoustic comfort in any collective environment and under all conditions: the noise does not prevent the concentration inside; animated meetings do not disturb the quiet outside environment.

Chakra uses a patented assembly system which ensures simplicity and speed in the assembly and flexibility for subsequent movements, extensions or configuration changes.
To create Chakra project team, Universal Selecta has chosen qualified technical partners for the various fields of expertise: Studio AMA-Albera Monti & Associati (art direction); Ezio Rendina-Viva Consulting (acoustic design); Eco Contract (surface finishings).

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A holistic approach to lighting design.

All the components of a room, that contribute to environmental wellbeing, such as exposure, architecture, furnishings, colors and natural sunlight, are taken into consideration in a holistic approach.
There is not only one kind of light; there are different lights: a light to see, a light to look at, a light to watch.

The barren lux concept is obsolete and should be widened to comfort, taking into account visual perception: the human eye doesn’t perceive the total wattage, but  the light distribution.
So, a qualitative rather than quantitative lighting design is requested.

In a working environment reduction in contrasts prevents fatigue.
Most important, through a differentiated light on vertical surfaces rooms look wider and brighter (vertical surfaces account for 80% of the perceived ones).
Also, it’s necessary to pay special attention to other important factors:  the colour rendering and constancy, flux and the thermal stability of LED,technology, now most widely used.

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Text by arch. Gianni Ronchetti, lighting designer.

Pictures: copyright by Erco- Courtesy of Erco.

The evolution of the office lighting design approach from the 70’s to the 90’s to the present holistic approach.

Left: workplace with traditional lighting design;
Right: restyling of the same workplace by a holistic lighting design.

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Home Sweet Office Home: Plantronics’ offices in Italy.

Plantronics will open on April 6th its new offices in Italy at the LEED Platinum Energy Park building -by Garretti Associati– in Vimercate, close to Milan: a 400 sqm space to experience smart-working now and into the future, where the concepts of “work elsewhere” and “work-life balance” lend greater comfort and harmonized mind-body ergonomics to the environment.

Plantronics, pioneer in Wearable technology, was one of the first firms to theorize and implement smart-working, but our work and life styles have changed a lot in the last few years.
I need an office, but I don’t want an office” Daniele Andriolo, Global Manager of Facilities and Workplace Services di Plantronics, asked to architect Daniela Carta, founder of MQA Metro Quadro Architetti and her team -Irene Pacioni and Marianna De Vivo architects. They accepted the challenge.

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The concepts in the lead just a few years ago are no longer relevant and the key words pinpoint the current trends of the creative jobs: Liquid Worklife, Café Co-Working, Pop-Up Workplace, Hacker Culture, Meetings Without Borders, fino a Fighting the Tech Fatigue and Wellness is the New Green.
The result is a non-office-office, designed as a welcoming and comfortable Great Place to Stay.


“We were fascinated with the idea of opening fluid spaces so that everyone feels right at home, welcome, thanks to a comfortable and flexible environment –quoted Ilaria Santambrogio, Country Manager Plantronics Italia– the Italian headquarter is today an open office, designed to host customers, partners, resellers, so that everyone feels at home, thanks to the comfort and flexibility of the spaces”.

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No more rooms specifically meant for concentration, communication, contemplation and collaboration, so the whole environment is suited to be lived in a free, at all times and in whatever manner.
The 80% of the office does not represent the standard office. There are spaces that can be experienced and exploited, in different way, with no fixed positions for the employees.
To encourage the conviviality and the welcoming atmosphere, the office includes several areas: an area with sit-stand desks, a kitchen area, a relaxation area with elegant couches of design and polished wood tables. A unique and innovative concept in the European and global context and not only, which allows to the Italian headquarter to improve the wellbeing of the team, encouraging greater productivity and pursuing its growth goals in the world of the headsets in more targeted manner.


Into the new offices there is not a strict division of the areas, so that employees, guests, partners, customers can experience the Smart Working space in a free way, choosing to work on the table of the kitchen, in the relaxation areas, on one of the tables , scattered in different areas, or in one of the meeting rooms.
During the planning phase, Plantronics highlighted primarily the need of ergonomics and acoustic comfort: each element is an expression of a different way, smart to work. The heigh-adjustable desks (by Sedus) can be changed from time to time.
This reflects the freedom to decide the workstation, depending on the type of activities: focusing, brainstorming, connecting to a conference call.
The whole office presents itself as an open space everywhere, with monitors in each room or blackboards glass on which to take notes during an informal meeting or during a coffee. At level of lighting design, maximum attention also to the use of natural light and use of LED 100% .


The architectural studio has used wood everywhere: in addition the use of sound-absorbing materials makes the environment already soundproofed.
In line with a sustainability choice, Plantronics has selected the Interface modular carpets, made with 100% recycled materials , it reclaims the typical pavement of the European roads.
The kitchen corner includes an authentic italian kitchen, which is also a meeting place, and point of connection thanks to the Watercooler videoconference system, an open window with the other Smart Working offices, with the purpose to favor the collaboration with the colleagues from various European Plantronics offices.
The use of natural materials and warm colors, the high acoustic comfort, the variety of furnishings of valuable finishes and the curved surfaces make the room pleasant and comfortable.
The criteria of environmental sustainability taken into consideration in the planning are most appreciated by employees and guests, whom are received in the central kitchen, where “But first… coffee!” is written in big letters.

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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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Wellbeing and dynamic ergonomics in the workplace (Assufficio).

The document “Wellbeing in the Workplace” is an excerpt of one of the Assufficio Technical Commission’s research, that will be downloaded in the extended version, by the Assufficio website. The document explains the need of adaptability to the anthropometric dimensions, the problems of incorrect postures and also focuses on the new trend of sit-stand desks.
The conclusions? To reach wellness, it is important to change habits before changing the habitat.

The workers’ wellness depends on light, noise, temperature and, mainly, the right posture. The workstation should be adaptable to the user’s anthropometric size, through an ergonomic seat and a height adjustable desk. Working sitting in front of the computers, the correct posture is not enough for the worker’s health. He should have the opportunity to change position, to stand and move.

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For this reason smart working and activity based office are good for our work -life balance and our heath too.
The document suggests standards for chairs and analyzes the desks by classification based on heigh and adjustment type.

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Simply switching between seated and standing position, for ten minutes every hour, would allow us to minimize the negative effects of extended sitting, improving our work efficiency.

Pictures by Ettore Schioppa, member of Assufficio Technical Commission, from the booklet “Wellbeing in the Workplace” ´©`Assufficio.

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Reset: adapting the space to your stress level (Scape and UNstudio at Workplace 3.0).

Reducing the stress level in the office adapting constantly space to whom is living in it. At the Salone Ufficio 2017’s installation A Joyful Sense at Work, UNStudio and Scape will present Reset, a living laboratory where the ambient intelligence will demonstrate which stress reduction methods work best for different individuals, through the experience of the visitors.

Investigating how technology can be used in order to reduce effectively the stress level in the office, focusing on individual needs, is the main goal of the Responsive Emotional Transformation pod (RESET), a fully immersive, modular structure that features scientifically proven stress reduction methods in an interactive way.
The project has been developed thanks to a multidisciplinary teamwork consisting of UNStudio, SCAPE, the neuroscientist Teresa de Sanctis, Jurjen Söhne and Diederik Veelo, specialized in interaction design and ambient intelligence.
“The uniqueness of the RESET pods is that space actively responds to you”, Jeff Povlo, Founder of Scape says. “The wearable technology enables personalized experiences based on the input of your stress levels.

The concept of ambient intelligence refers to responsive and sensitive environments that use electronic systems and devices to adapt to the presence of the people.
Reset, one of the four environments of the A Joyful Sense at Work installation is based on biosensors that will provide information on how visitors will respond to stress reduction experiences with a factual and immediate feedback.
Using design to benefit human health on multiple levels is one of the most important things that architecture can contribute”, Ben van Berkel by UnSpace concludes. “Stress is one of the essential issues we need to tackle in today’s workplace.”
Reset set a new concept: it is not the man adapting to space, but it the other way round.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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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.

 

Starpool at Workplace 3.0: neuroscience and wellbeing in the office.

Creating wellness in the working environment through new technologies and neuroscience is gonna be one of the main topics at the Salone Ufficio 2017. Starpool will so present his project “Zero-gravity mindfulness”, focusing on two products that create a new way of the office space to take care of the people working in: the dry floating experience of Zerobody and the meditation tracks of Nu Relax.

As it is shown by their claim Wellness Concept @Work, Starpool has always been a company focused on designing services and environment to support the wellbeing in the office. Lately, neuroscience’s findings have changed the way of approaching to this goal. “Mindfulness and inner balance are more and more required at work”, Riccardo Turri, Ceo Starpool. “Zerobody and Nu Relax are conceived like a bridge between the office environment and the scientific research. Knowing how our brain actually works is going to be important to improve our lifestyle in the next future”.
The project “Zero-gravity Mindfulness” (Mindfulness a gravità zero) at Salone del Mobile 2017 aims to create a connection between the new technologies and the last findings of neuroempowerment.

The table Zerobody, designed by Cristiano Mino and realized in collaboration with Neocogita, brings in the office the dry floating experience, a stress relief method, based on the sensation of feeling light like “being on a cloud”. Enveloping softly the body, the water heated mattress of Zerobody creates an ideal physical condition to concentrate and to improve the mental performances.
“Brain is flexible, it gets better or worst depending on how much and how we use it”, says Nicola de Pisapia, Neocogita’s founder. “The dry floating experience takes the person to a meditative condition that activates and thickens important cerebral areas”.
The Nu Relax’s six audio-guided meditation tracks, instead, are all based on scientific protocols and traditional practices like yoga. Nu Relax has being developed to help to face the different challenges and situations we have to deal with during a normal working day: relax, balance, creativity, calm, clarity of mind and brilliance.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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What are the employees’s most desired benefits and services?

Is there a change of trend under way as far as benefits and services companies are offering to their employees? Let’s reflect upon the manager’s awareness of the staff’s actual wishes and the strategies of companies such as Microsoft Italia, now moving from the perfect, well-served campus outside the city to the new and beautiful offices downtown Milan, however with “no services”

So far, every company aspiring to the role of best workplace relied on benefits and services for the workers, becoming a sort of “mum-company” taking care of her babies: besides free organic food and the “butler” taking care of the staff’s mental and physical wellbeing, there is also a commitment to promoting a healthy life style.
The offices are wonderful sub urban architectures surrounded by nature (for instance Technogym, Tetrapak, Elica, Diesel, Loccioni), work-life balance oriented headquarters, micro-cities offering services such as day nursery, restaurant, fitness center, garden, theatre, doctor’s appointment and more.
Perfect workplaces, but…
However the survey by Oxford Economics and Plantronics studied what workers want from their office environments, and what managers need to do to enable the highest satisfaction and productivity from their people. First of all workers just want to work and sometimes managers don’t see the problems.
It raises doubts, which is more important than a supply of more “optional” services.

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Microsoft Italia seems to be taking this path by leaving the fully-equipped campus to take its employees downtown and to a beautiful architecture (by Herzog & De Meuron for Fondazione Feltrinelli) and working environment meant for the highest level of comfort.
There are several break rooms and a kitchenette and cafe machines on every floor, yet no restaurant, nursery or gym. However all services are available around here, downtown.
To make up for it, even the public can stop and try the new technologies, play and work on the ground floor, and a lab is available for schools.
An about-turn compared to the usual pattern: Microsoft entering the city is an entry in every respect, meaning relations, involvement and services not only for their workers but for all residents.
A new mission statement, an osmosis with the vibrant town, even the employees are certainly proud of.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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The pictures show the new Microsoft Italia headquarters in Milan.

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The best workplaces in Italy awarded by GPTW (March 3rd)).

The winner companies -classificate into 3 lists: Large, Medium and Small Companies best workplaces- will be awarded next March 3rd, 2017 during the gala dinner organized by Great Place To Work Italia at the Unicredit Pavilion in Milan.

As usual, the ranking is based on the survey conducted among workers of the companies GPTW is collaborating with, to improve the business climate and the people satisfaction. The interviews are focused on various aspects in particular relate to the relationship between managers and employees, the collaboration between people and the quality of the work.
”The survey shows that managers of the best companies manifest in a special way their appreciation for the commitment of the people, not only through tangible benefits, but especially on an ongoing basis in the daily relationship”. Antonino Borgese, president of GPTW, quoted.
The best workplaces are characterized by the high level of wellbeing that people enjoy.
Among the multinationals are ranked Google, SAS Institute, W. L. Gore & Associates, high productive companies that implemented smart working.

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