Work IS a fully engrossing experience, so why not enhance all of those experiences?
You’ve probably heard of the debate about whether open offices or the oh-so-dreaded traditional cubicles are better in the workplace. All these discussions revolve around layout and arrangement, but did you know that ambience is equally (if not more) important for inspiring workplace creativity?
If only the interior designer had known that people working in white offices are more likely to complain of nausea and headaches, or that dim lighting jump starts creative freedom, your office might be a much happier place. In fact, the best offices engage all five senses — everything from colors and music to smells and tastes — to maximize your productivity and creativity.
Read the infographic below to decode why your office might be holding you back, and discover small things you can do to unleash your team’s creative powers in no time.
Living in a big city like London, even with parks and trees, it can be hard to find a spot dedicated to just being quiet and taking in nature.
So the Finnish Institute of London, The Architecture Foundation and London Wildlife Trust just unveiled Viewpoint, a floating platform where Londoners can slow down and enjoy Regents’ Canal. Designed by Finnish architects Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola, this permanent structure serves as a placid retreat for visitors to nearby Camley Street Natural Park and as an outdoor learning environment for school children and adults.
Does social media make us feel more or less connected? How does connecting and communicating in a digital space impact us differently than connecting and communicating in a physical space?
There are mixed results from various studies, but recently more studies have come out finding that we actually feel less connected to each other the more we use social media like Facebook:
Kross found that the more people used Facebook, the less happy they felt—and the more their overall satisfaction declined from the beginning of the study until its end. The data, he argues, shows that Facebook was making them unhappy.Research into the alienating nature of the Internet—and Facebook in particular—supports Kross’s conclusion. In 1998, Robert Kraut, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, found that the more people used the Web, the lonelier and more depressed they felt. After people went online for the first time, their sense of happiness and social connectedness dropped, over one to two years, as a function of how often they used the Internet.Lonelier people weren’t inherently more likely to go online, either; a recent review of some seventy-five studies concluded that “users of Facebook do not differ in most personality traits from nonusers of Facebook.”
But, as with most findings on Facebook, the opposite argument is equally prominent. In 2009, Sebastián Valenzuela and his colleagues came to the opposite conclusion of Kross: that using Facebook makes us happier. They also found that it increases social trust and engagement—and even encourages political participation. Valenzuela’s findings fit neatly with what social psychologists have long known about sociality: as Matthew Lieberman argues in his book “Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect,” social networks are a way to share, and the experience of successful sharing comes with a psychological and physiological rush that is often self-reinforcing. The prevalence of social media has, as a result, fundamentally changed the way we read and watch: we think about how we’ll share something, and whom we’ll share it with, as we consume it. The mere thought of successful sharing activates our reward-processing centers, even before we’ve actually shared a single thing.
Virtual social connection can even provide a buffer against stress and pain: in a 2009 study, Lieberman and his colleagues demonstrated that a painful stimulus hurt less when a woman either held her boyfriend’s hand or looked at his picture; the pain-dulling effects of the picture were, in fact, twice as powerful as physical contact.
So what does this all mean? That we are complicated. And so is how we use social media.
“What makes it complicated is that Facebook is for lots of different things—and different people use it for different subsets of those things. Not only that, but they are also changing things, because of people themselves changing,” said Gosling. A 2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged in direct interaction with others—that is, posting on walls, messaging, or “liking” something—their feelings of bonding and general social capital increased, while their sense of loneliness decreased. But when participants simply consumed a lot of content passively, Facebook had the opposite effect, lowering their feelings of connection and increasing their sense of loneliness.
I have seen forums used to create physical communities (I don’t want to say “real world” because virtual is real, it’s really happening) and create friendships that crossed continents, but I have also heard of and seen virtual bullying that in some very sad cases led to a person’s death. We can be cruel to others by hiding behind that veil of anonymity, or even just by creating a lack of physical presence which also creates a mental separation which makes it easier for us to feel isolated or intentionally isolate others. But we also want to share and connect with others, even if we can’t be physically near them, and share very intimate details with people we may not otherwise have given the time of day, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the context and situation.
How do you use social media? Does it make you feel more connected to your tribe, or do you feel left out or perhaps even more isolated? Do you bridge the gap between your virtual world and physical world, or does the slogan “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” also apply to your social media and physical lives? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Have you ever wondered what job you’ll have in 10 years? This trend-spotting firm came up with some ideas for what new jobs could exist by then.
New technology will eradicate some jobs, change others, and create whole new categories of employment. Innovation causes a churn in the job market, and this time around the churn is particularly large–from cheap sensors (creating “an Internet of things“) to 3-D printing (enabling more distributed manufacturing).
Sparks & Honey, a New York trend-spotting firm, has a wall in its office where staff can post imaginative next-generation jobs. Below are eight of them, with narration from CEO Terry Young (who previously appeared here talking about health care).
First, this list is a great example of why creativity and playfulness are so important to cultivate – it’ll help you adapt to the future.
But several of these jobs also require being able to think creatively and outside the box, being adaptable and adjusting to new problems like “I haven’t been in school in 10 years but want to go back), and thinking abstractly. All of which are cultivated and grown through play!
Where you live apparently can influence your happiness – or maybe happy people just tend head west?
Which way to happy? Geographically speaking, it’s the route to Hawaii, Maine or one of the clusters of blissful cities in California and Colorado.
The map below is based on results from a study of geotagged tweets published earlier this year in PLoS ONE by researchers at the University of Vermont. The team scored more than 10,000 words on a positive-negative scale and measured their frequency in millions of tweets across the country, deliberately ignoring context to eliminate experimental bias. What emerged was significant regional variation in happiness by this calculation, which correlates with other lifestyle measures such as gun violence, obesity and Gallup‘s traditional wellbeing survey. A sadness belt across the South includes states that have high levels of poverty and the shortest life expectancies.
This article brings up an interesting idea of a “forced” playful space. You can certainly encourage creativity and playfulness, but forcing the issue can backfire in a bad way.
“We have recently seen many offices that try to evoke a kind of forced playfulness,” says Sam Hecht, founder of London-based Industrial Facility. “Slides, chill-out zones, ping-pong, or a kind of home-like interior. We were very suspicious of this.”
For his own take on the flexible office system, Hecht and his partner, Kim Colin, adopted a more nuanced approach to getting employees to think fondly of their office–and not view them as places of mandatory drudgery. Locale, for Herman Miller, uses modular pieces that easily adjust in place and height to create what Hecht calls neighborhoods.
I definitely agree that everyone has to buy in or the “playful” environment doesn’t truly exist. A space designated for “play” just becomes a dead zone at work if nobody wants to hang out there, or knows they’ll be scolded by fellow workers for disrupting work, or viewed as “lazy.”
I’m curious to hear more of why the Locale design would make people feel more neighborly. Thoughts? Ideas? Leave them in the comments below.
Augusto Pirovano, in Milan, Italy with 2 other friends we made a project called Critical City Upload:
A game of urban transformation that uses a web platform and asks its players to perform creative missions. So far CCU is not very different from Edgeryders, the fact is that the missions are – instead of stories and reflections to write and share with others as it is on Edgeryders – creative actions that are generally performed in the public spaces of cities. The player picks the mission, shuts down the computer, gets out on the street, plays the mission, collects the necessary proof of his experience and then, after returning home, publishes the mission attaching photos and videos. As the player gets points, he levels up until he reaches level 7 and wins the Mechanical Box (a mysterious box that is delivered at his home).