What is Multisensory Design?
Multisensory design recognises that humans experience and react to a work environment in many ways, subtle and obvious, consciously and abstractly. It allows for a rich experience by creating a ‘conversation’ between designer and workspace user; this leads to intentionally designed workspaces that can be successfully measured.
Multisensory design has been developed from the idea that humans experience a space or environment in numerous ways – more than just visually. Sight is what people tend to think of first when it comes to engineering and architecture, we respond just as strongly to noises, aromas, temperature, humidity, textures, flavours.
What are the benefits of Multisensory Design Experience in the Workplace?
- Increase the attractiveness and desirability of the workplace – Employees who feel comfortable, healthy and connected in their workplace will be more enthusiastic to come into the office and to share the space with others.
- Improved employee awareness towards workplace well-being.
- Improved mental and physical health of employees.
- A thoughtful and considered workspace design will decrease stress and increase productivity in employees.
Consideration and awareness around of the elements that our five senses receive from a work environ, can boost the wellness and overall health of a workplace.
Sight is usually considered the principal architectural and spatial receptor and access to natural light are critical for a healthy multisensory working environment. Having an uncluttered and spacious workspace, contributes to productive, healthy work environment. The surface colours and materials also have a significant effect on employee productivity, satisfaction, comfort, and health: materials with warm positive tones like wood and plant life, increase positive biophilic effects, working towards a fully multisensory experience.
In workspace design, touch means that your sense of touch could be employed by sitting on a hard bench in the kitchen or a quiet boot. Choosing natural textiles and materials for furniture and your colour scheme makes for a more soothing space.
Eating and drinking is a universal bond between people and socialising. Food and drink play an important role in creating harmony in the working environment. Providing fantastic food, coffee, beer wine and other beverages makes the workspace a social space, showing to your staff that you not only care about them but that the workspace is more than just a place to work. It is also a key element in attracting and retaining talent, increasing collaboration and interaction on a personal level.
Sound would have to be the most discussed experience of our five senses that we experience in the workplace – and mostly it comes in the form of complaints about distractions or excess noise in open plan work environments. Using sound masking techniques such as playing white noise and installing sound absorbing materials can address these issues of distraction. An acoustically prepared office increases the concentration of occupants, and provides confidentiality when needed, and can differentiate between uses of space.
In the workspace, pleasant aromas can help create a strong, positive association between a space and its users. Use of scents and perfumes in the workplace make for a less clinical feel and provides a warm and homely experience, creating a fully multisensory workspace.
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Photo source: Office Snapshots