The organization of office work alone or in a team has changed little in form. Only from the 1950s / 60s, the regular use of the telephone, typewriters, calculators, then later the microcomputer, changed the atmosphere of workplaces. At the end of the 1970s, the arrival of the microcomputer upset habits with an artificial organization and over-densified landscaped spaces. Generally very calm, collected for some, since in the same spirit as the monks. Places of study and writing radically changed this tranquility from the arrival of machines. But workspaces which are equipped today with new computer technologies have not yet changed much in the interior design of offices. This material capacity will make these modern-day monks switch to new exchanges, both intellectual and material, and lead them to reconsider the environment of their work.
To date, office spaces have barely followed this change and are still not properly adapted.
An old example, the presence of the microcomputer, introduced in its time at the end of the 1970s, in-office workspaces has not been the subject of reflection on the impact produced among people in relation to this new tool and is struggling to find its place even today.
Among several other office parameters, the lack of integration and appropriation disrupted human relations and working conditions. Another example is the hijacking of a new technology tool: the telephone answering machine was initially a presence simulation tool, it has been transformed into an absence simulation tool “it filters calls”. Non-adaptation or embarrassment has encouraged technostress, generated by new telecommunication tools.
New technologies, despite multiple interests, are a new source of insidious stress that costs the human body dearly, but also very dear to businesses. Nuisance from information and communication technology (NICT), the network breaks down at the precise moment when we have to print a report or send an emergency email, in a landscape full of information, secret codes, passwords, read the many messages awaiting feedback, accompanied by landline and mobile phone rings.
Today we are experiencing an unprecedented revolution in our relationship to the object. In the still recent past, when faced with an object, we mainly sought to have a mechanistic relationship: either by limiting ourselves to pressing an “on / off” button or at the other extreme, by demonstrating it in order to try to repair it. This approach is now obsolete. Since the explosion of microcomputing and its connection to digital networks, these objects have become more “intelligent” but also potentially more complex
The modern employee is constantly in a fix. He must quickly sort out what is piling up on his desk, alive reproach for his delay, his guilt, and his impression of ineffectiveness. He must simultaneously answer the phone, perform urgent work, complete a report more or less shaken up by his hierarchy who presses him, etc.
Our relationship with the world of work is ever-changing and rapidly evolving. First of all, colleagues who are not necessarily chosen and with whom it is nevertheless necessary to live together seven to eight hours a day, in closed environments. In many cases, the lack of living space for the natural privacy of each is reduced to a few square meters, consisting of a work table, a chair, and storage.
More insidious but revealing of disordered behavior, this dematerialization of office work “word processing, board, electronic commerce, etc.” requires that we make mental representations in order to use them well. This necessary abstraction increases the mental load which is already submerged with information from all sides, while since the dawn of time our organism is accustomed to the contrary, which is to fight for our subsistence and survival and manage the shortage somehow.
What technology allows us to achieve, the human brain is not yet capable of quickly becoming saturated with the accumulation of tasks and demands. The individual then falls into the trap of thinking that because it is technically possible, he may also be capable of it. Loss of the notion of limit and of the essential, one feels both overwhelmed and dependent. An “impression” of not being able to live and work without these prostheses such as mobiles, faxes or laptops, etc.
Mobility is another performance driver for companies. Information technology, communication systems, the very notion of a fixed office are trying to disappear. The acceleration of technological tools where each person must be reachable anytime and anywhere. “New predictable stress” gradually eliminates so-called “tertiary” work and becomes nomadic. The abandonment of the office building is not yet planned for immediately, but their needs, their development are mandatory; social adaptation, qualitative improvement of individual and collective and technical results, optimization of management, and information technology costs.
Today, productivity is measured qualitatively and no longer quantitatively and will surely change work habits. The landscaped spaces lead to workstations, multipurpose personal acoustic bubbles, or to activities shared by several people or in certain cases intended for a specific activity “computer pool, meeting room”.
A typical example of the nomadic office: unassigned workstations; a concept invented by Ernst and Young derived from industrial production management and applied to the tertiary environment. (Just-in-time) designates a workspace composed of unassigned workstations allocated on the basis of reservations “hoteling offices”, for nomad workers. Already, office building concepts are emerging in large mega-cities. The workspaces are composed of self-service stations, rented according to the rule, first come, first served, bearing the name of Free Address.
Let us return to the foreseeable evolution of the offices of a structure. Closed office spaces are reduced in a number of square meters, becoming places of reflection, confidentiality, reception, and management. The flexibility required of these new concepts makes it necessary to rethink the structure of the building. Walls, floors, ceilings, partitions must have a use and an integration function, for the different fluids, but also a possible reconfiguration, an acoustic capacity, sound, ease of maintenance, fire resistance, etc.
The floor, wall, and ceiling finishes are already designed with fire-resistant, anti-allergenic, stain-resistant, and solid products and fibers. The contribution of more careful coverings and accessories facilitates user-friendliness and comfort, which is also more discreet in the designs and colors. This may be the first reasonable intervention in the partial decrease in heart rate and by induced decrease in the ambient overexcitement of society. Air conditioning, heating, natural and artificial lighting, computer screen reflecting the luminance carrier, poor viewing angle, have been and still are too often neglected. The cost of the installations being the only criterion for selecting the client.
The closed workstation, a place for both living and office work, has become a room where the environment is designed for activities requiring a lot of concentration (reading, writing, thinking). This type of office must have adequate acoustic and confidentiality performance (meeting, reception of visitors, phoning, etc.).
This concept ideally promotes a certain sense of independence of people, an appropriation of the work environment for decoration, and personalization. Possible negative effect: withdrawal into its work bubble.
Common, semi-open, or open workspaces bringing together a large number of people in the same area have ushered in an era of proximity. This type of arrangement improves the performance of tasks in a team, communications between structures and people.
The increase in noise of all kinds, semi-open and open spaces must give each worker his acoustic autonomy and guarantee the confidentiality of exchanges, reduce the emission and propagation of disruptive noise aided by-products with high acoustic absorption.
The ease of movement, communications, ideas, and individuals of this type of development with the strong image of novelty and its first successes of spontaneous interaction of people poses new problems:
The individual always manifests and in all places of appropriation, his mechanisms for delimiting the territory.
Conference rooms or meetings room are a confined space irrespective of whether they are large or small, and are occupied by a higher density of people as compared to most other spaces. The environment is of course of great importance: being enclosed with artificial lighting for the benefit of natural lighting will modify our sensory approaches.
These environmental components cited, still incomplete, are capital for the success or otherwise of discussions and validation decisions which may be important for the structure. We can imagine that the tertiary structures which do not ask these types of questions about the serious organization of workspaces, make a bad calculation at the same time on their cost of energy operation, maintenance, equipment, and installations. various, but also causes additional stress on the staff and insidiously promotes absenteeism in particular.
Badly thought out, this environment can be particularly harmful and thus cause health disturbances.