New Work and the Power of Positive Working Environments

The following article was written by Antje Waterholter, an independent architect specialized in architectural psychology.

Concentrating and collaborating, relaxing and regenerating, letting the mind flow, recharging energy, fostering development and strengthening resources - these are all features that characterize holistically and organically designed rooms. They also meet the demands of today's innovative working environments to stimulate creativity, productivity and collaboration among employees and to support their physical and mental health. In addition to workplace qualities that offer security and stability, current surveys among the younger generation have shown that a working environment that values the diversity of its users and explicitly enables them to work together and act accordingly is important.

The principles of biophilic design make a corresponding contribution to the development of positive working environments. This evolutionary-biologically based approach is based on the innate human desire to connect with the living. In this way, the integration of natural and near-natural elements in rooms creates a harmonious balance between man and the built environment. With the integration of plants or water, wood, cork or clay, conformal scents, sounds and light, an aesthetic overall impression is created, a reflection of geometric patterns, forms, colors and proportions, as they can be found in nature as fractal structures and spectra. In this way, we users can establish a mental connection with nature through both conscious and unconscious processes in the experience of rooms designed for this purpose. Links with positive ideas and experiences are beneficial to mental health and sensitize for a responsible and respectful treatment of the environment. Also, they strengthen and expand a wide range of skills such as social and personal competencies - soft skills to successfully master the challenges of the new working world.

A working atmosphere full of natural elements in the co-working space of Tadah

New Work, as a new form of work, is characterized by trends such as digitalization and globalization, which demands not only mobility and flexibility but also a changed attitude. In order to remain competitive and retain employees in the long term, companies and organizations must adapt to this dynamic process. This requires, on the one hand, the further development of management cultures and, on the other hand, the spatial, structural and physical adaptation of working environments - factors that have a reciprocal effect. The development and design of spaces in harmony with people and nature create the breeding ground for mental growth and development processes. Such lively, multi-sensorial perceived spaces have positive effects on creativity, the ability to concentrate and holistic thinking. They strengthen the well-being and satisfaction of their users and counteract the currently critically increased mental stress. They also convey a sense of security, offer orientation, open up new perspectives and freedom for individual and collective action. They motivate and inspire, generate optimistic moods and create pleasant atmospheres.

Built space influences our mind and soul. It is not only experienced physically but is shaped by the person, his emotions and his individual view. A concentrated confrontation with the users, the appreciation of their differences and the consideration of the aforementioned design principles pave the way for the development of healthy, productive space. This creates sustainable spaces in which people can develop their full potential. Power places with a special charisma that trigger positive emotions, create a comprehensive sense of well-being and can be maintained in the long term through positive interventions, as a recent study on the connection between well-being from the perspective of positive psychology and working environments designed with plants shows (Waterholter, 2018).

The author Antje Waterholter has worked as a freelance architect since 1992. With her office for social architecture, she realizes interdisciplinary and user-oriented work environments, learning, living and therapy rooms, advises and accompanies all participants in processes of spatial change and scientifically focuses on the well-being in organically designed spaces.