Spend a very long flight in the front of the plane followed by a much shorter flight in steerage and you can’t help thinking about the way spaces affect you. My recent twelve hour flight to Doha in Business was somehow much shorter than my one hour flight from there to Dubai in Economy.
During my time in Dubai and Sharjah my awareness of the impact of spaces on emotion, energy, and perception continued as I sat at dinner in amazing halls, wandered out into the vast desert, and was packed into a dark and claustrophobic club. I had business meetings in tight quarters barely able to contain the table and a few chairs, in a vast cavern of an industrial building, and in the lobbies, bars, and restaurants of various hotels.
On my return flights I pondered the way these different spaces all were participants in the meetings or meals even though mostly below the consciousness of those within them. In some cases the space enhanced the dialogue while in others it boxed it in. I watched as people entered different spaces. Some spaces led to awe and smiling, energized gazes while others led to hunched shoulders with nary a smile in sight.
Spaces, the place we spend all our time.
All too often office and other business spaces are designed without much thought about the way they impact their inhabitants. Yet, the mental state spaces create often has an immense impact on the quality of the work performed within them.
The space is designed without any input from those who use it. People with no knowledge of the way the work actually gets done design space that turns out to inhibit rather than facilitate exceptional results.
The idea that the form of the spaces should follow the function of the activities that fill them is not considered or perhaps just ignored. Using spaces to exemplify, accentuate and be fully aligned with the values the organization supposedly lives by is never considered. All too often the space has exactly the opposite result, exposing the hypocrisy of the values expressed.
The value of designing the space to encourage collaboration and involvement across functions and specialties is missed. The latest trend in designing spaces is followed whether it makes sense for the organization or not. The lemming model is followed instead of designing what leads to optimum results irrespective of what others are doing.
Ease of design and construction and minimization of cost is picked for short term gain over increasing shareholder value through building an environment that best fits the needs and sensibilities of those who with the best resources will build an exceptional and successful company.
Visit Dubai. Notice how just walking around looking at the exteriors of the towers leads to your thoughts soaring. With such emotional excitement and openness of mind who knows what creative and innovative ideas might emerge to drive your organization further than you ever imagined possible.