Innovation in the human-centered workplace


After the Christmas holidays, which were very different for many of us, the start of the new year is a good opportunity to look to the future. In 2021, digitalisation, climate change and health will continue to dominate the way the economy and society evolve. The ability to adapt to a situation, which is in a constant state of flux, and to come up with new ideas for future-proof business models in all areas, has never been more crucial. In light of these challenges, boosting innovation should be the design focus of shared office space.

The pandemic means that people will probably be working from home for some weeks and months to come. Experience over the past year has shown that a lot of things worked well and, in some cases, even better than sceptics thought possible. As a result, many businesses were able to keep on running. But the ability to innovate and adapt to change are two aspects that fall by the wayside if people can’t engage with each other in person.

Because nobody any longer believes that innovations are the result of brainwaves that come out of the blue. Innovations are produced when two or more pieces of information are pooled in a new way. In other words, when information from all sorts of disciplines is provided more often, it’s more likely to lead to an innovation. Research on innovation shows that over 80% of innovations result from people interacting, often spontaneously, with each other. And psychologists tell us that human beings are wary of change and trust is required in order for them to embrace it. Engaging with other people in person is the only way of conveying a feeling of assurance, appreciation, support and belonging.

Fostering interaction is vital for office design of the future. Where paths cross – as they do here in the reception area – Insit benches prompt people to take a seat and talk to each other. Image: Wilkhahn and 1zu33

Therefore, designing offices as interactive spaces underpins successful innovation and change management. This is where Wilkhahn’s human-centered workplace concept comes in. Its integrative approach takes into account well-being, collaboration, identity and purpose. The fact that employees are stimulated and feel appreciated makes them happier and healthier. Navigation throughout the workspace is devised so that people repeatedly bump into one another at particular points and the backdrops are so diverse that these encourage interaction again and again. The attractive furniture with its perfect functionality, the materials and colours used also create points of reference, trust and assurance. And at the same time, the vision of reconciling profit with the needs of people and the planet is evident everywhere.

The café is the hub of spontaneous meet-ups, new ideas and stimuli, or even somewhere where new ideas can be tried out on outsiders. The design of the space with its home-like appeal and natural materials and colours in the Occo tables and chairs too create the sort of relaxing atmosphere people enjoy being in. Image: Wilkhahn and 1zu33

Ensuring that employees no longer just observe but are actively involved in change means providing an array of different spaces for them to collaborate in. And, above all, these areas require chairs and tables that they can reconfigure themselves as required. People who rearrange the settings themselves help create a process from the word go and quite literally get to grips with it better. As a result, passive consumers become active agents of change who enjoy contributing their skills and potential. At the same time, concerns and obstacles standing in the way of change are effectively swept away.

A stage-like area is integrated between the workspaces for project workshops for example. Attendees can configure the spaces themselves thanks to stackable Metrik chairs and flip-top Confair tables, which can also accommodate flipcharts. Image: Wilkhahn and 1zu33

The innovation space on the ground floor of the human-centered workplace can also be reserved by outsiders. It’s designed to ensure as many people as possible get involved in configuring it and comes with all the tools that are so helpful in the creative process. The mobile Timetable lift tables offer cordless, electric height adjustment for meetings held standing up or sitting down. The magnetic table tops can be written on and serve as a joint work surface. Flipped up, they become presentation and projection screens and can be photographed in order to record any results obtained. Sitzbocks and Stand-up stools can be placed spontaneously in groups and foster a change of posture and therefore mental agility too. A range of different materials can be displayed on the perforated wall panels for creative methods such as design thinking. Displays fitted flush with the walls integrate the digital information space and translucent wall panels in ceiling tracks divide up the space into flexible zones with more privacy if people want to work in small groups.

The innovation space is ideal for analogue and digital creative work in a team. The focus is on inspiring those involved to organise the area themselves and embrace change dynamically. The space can also be reserved by outsiders, which boosts its occupancy rate, saves resources and pays dividends on the investment in first-class tools and cutting-edge technology. Image: Wilkhahn and 1zu33

During the lockdown, now more than ever, it’s vital to use the time to remember the advantages of collaborating together in one office space and make the appropriate concepts available. As more people will opt to work from home in future too, (particularly if they really need to concentrate) some of the workspaces in offices can be repurposed to encourage collaboration. And there has never been a better opportunity than the present to foster innovation and the ability to change by transforming offices into places where people can interact.

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How can an office become a human-centered workplace or a space where people remain productive and enjoy working in tomorrow’s world too? Find out more in our blog.

How does the human-centered workplace enable deep work? Find out more in our blog.

How does the human-centered workplace foster interaction?  Find out more in our blog.

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