University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Want a Thriving Workplace Culture? Consider the Design of Your Workspace

Workspace design is a powerful mechanism for engaging your people and communicating an organization’s values and aspirations. Work environments designed with features such as open floor plans, lots of natural light, ergonomic furniture, health amenities, and a mix of various types of meeting and community spaces imprint underlying values such as meritocracy, transparency, creativity, well-being, learning, innovation, and sustainability on workers. The physical built environment of work can greatly influence worker engagement and thriving because it manifests multiple touchpoints in the course of workers daily work routine. Workplace design is a tangible reminder of an organization’s willingness (or lack thereof) to invest in the things that make a worker feel valued and productive. Everyday planning and design decisions can profoundly impact the lives of people – sometimes in less than positive ways. HVAC systems in office buildings are often calibrated to certain body types while increasing the physical discomfort of others. Flexible seating areas with movable furniture pose problems for people with certain disabilities or poor mobility. Nursing women may encounter either inadequate or poorly placed mothers’ rooms.

We (two researchers and workspace design professional) will show how Positive Organizational Scholarship has been used in creating an alternative language of workplace design that amplifies the potential for thriving at work. Participants will come away from the session with an expanded vocabulary of “positive workplace design” with several metrics that can be employed in their own organizations. Participants don’t have to be involved in a formal office design roles to benefit from this session. The value in this session will be in the dialogue that surrounds the physical built environment of work and trains the participant in how to use design to stimulate a thriving workspace.

Speakers: Gretchen Spreitzer + Peter Bacevice + Hilary Hendricks

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Conference Schedule


See the detailed 2019 conference schedule here.