Ethonomics: Human-centered & Biophillic Design

As mentioned in the January article, our partner Teknion released a paper called Ethonomics: Designing for the Principles of the Modern Workplace in 2015. As a leading international designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative workplace interiors, the company explored how design can impact employee happiness and the question—What does well-being and productivity mean to today’s workforce?

As part of the Ethonomics formula for designing workplace happiness, significant attention is given to the topics of human-centered and biophilic design, the importance of creating rich sensory experiences and connections to the outdoors.

Human-centered design is about digging deeper into your understanding of who you are designing for, designing with a true empathy for the end users to create interiors that reflect social and cultural transformations. According to the Ethonomics paper, “The character of our surroundings provokes a visceral and an emotional response—whether from specific color combinations, the juxtaposition of materials or a mix of textures.” Designing interiors that connect with people more deeply on a sensorial level result in more meaningful and engaging spaces. Creating this more meaningful sensorial experience can be achieved through exploring more material applications. The paper suggests considering:

  • Stimulating and creating interest with dualities in textiles and materials
  • Bringing nature indoors with materials
  • Addressing sustainability and wellness concerns with textiles and materials
  • Exploring types of acoustical treatments with textiles
  • Creating deeper connections with the use of color

When it comes to deeper connections and sensorial experiences, human beings crave a relationship with nature. Biophilic design is the practice of building nature into the built environment, bringing the outside in or creating it inside to fulfill our innate need to connect with nature. According to the Ethonomics paper, “As human beings we are highly responsive to multi-sensorial experiences of nature—which are, in fact, profoundly important to human functioning, health and well-being.” It further states, “In order to thrive, people need access to daylight and a pleasant view, while spaces that contain natural elements or provide access to the outdoors can offer cognitive respite, stimulate creativity and improve work performance.”

Creating these deeper connections to nature can impact business in a profound way. Interface, a carpet manufacturer and pioneer in sustainability, helps power Human Spaces – – a website that provides a platform to explore and discuss biophilic design.

If you are interested in learning more Ethonomics and integrating human-centered and biophilic design principles into your workspace, contact 877-676-9346 . You can find information referenced in this article by visiting:—walkthrough-animation

In the summer issue, we will discuss the importance of Balance and Choice. Stay tuned!

Collaborative Meets Private


Collaborative workspaces foster creativity, increase engagement and encourage a cohesive work environment. They are essential to employee productivity, well-being and can positively impact a company’s bottom line.


With so much emphasis on collaborative areas in the workplace, we seem to have forgotten the significance of private, individual workspaces. It’s important to note that these quiet work areas are just as essential to a work environment as collaborative spaces.


We recently published a book, The Millennial Impact in Southeastern Wisconsin, which discusses Milwaukee Millennials’ views on transit, amenities and the city’s biggest challenges. Our findings also discuss Milwaukee Millennials’ workplace needs and their views of the ideal work environment.


When creating the ideal workspace to help recruit and retain the next generation of talent, space must not be overlooked. Private and collaborative space must be equal.  It’s all about balance. Millennials want choice. They want a workplace that promotes collaboration, but also has quiet areas dedicated to heads down, focused work.


72.5% of Millennials in Southeastern Wisconsin value a workplace that promotes collaboration, yet 65.7% ALSO value the availability of quiet workspaces. Currently, only one in four workers are working in optimal environments. The rest are struggling to work effectively, resulting in a major loss of productivity.


If the ability to focus is not considered in your overall workplace design and space plan, strategies to improve collaboration are ineffective. The right workplace balances focus, collaboration and personalization. There’s a major cost implication if you do nothing, but there is major cost savings if you do it right.


Kid-Friendly Offices


Balancing the ups and downs of parenting a toddler along with the demands of managing an entire sales department is already tough enough. But what happens when your child gets sick and you have a huge report due the next day? Creating office environments that are accepting of family life could be the answer to employee well-being, happiness and productivity. It’s all about helping your employees find the right balance between their work and personal life.

A family-friendly work culture does indeed take commitment from leadership and support from employees, with or without children of their own. From paid maternity leave, allowing employees to leave early to attend dance recitals or soccer games to fun play rooms in the office dedicated to children, there are many things companies can do to support their employees.


Providing them with office environments that are committed to helping them succeed, both professionally and personally, can ultimately help them feel more positive and better prepare them to handle adversity. Flexibility is key to employee happiness. And what’s the payoff of having happier employees? A 12 percent increase in productivity!

Etsy is no stranger to helping employees and working parents.The handmade and vintage items and supplies company encourages working parents to take full advantage of the family-friendly policies and benefits. To support the family-friendly culture onsite, Etsy hosts crafternoons, where families can work on crafting projects together, bring your child to work days and parties for kids and dogs. The company even has high chairs in the kitchen to support and encourage family visits during lunch time. While work isn’t suspended during these times, visits are supported by Etsy’s work culture. Employees have the autonomy to structure their own work schedule and reschedule meetings or presentations if they conflict with a personal matter.


To view the full article with more information on how different companies have created kid-friendly offices for working parents, visit

Creating a Company Culture: Incorporating Wellness into Your Office Space

The following tips were shared in a recent BizTimes blog post by Scott Gierhahn

Consider the following factors when looking for ways to incorporate wellness into your office space:

Natural light – Creating connections to the outdoors and penetrating workspaces with natural light impacts the mood and productivity of employees.

Proper lighting – In addition to natural light, office environments need to provide a variety of light levels to support different work functions. The proper light levels prevent employees from straining their eyes, which supports comfort, productivity and efficient work functions.

Workout area/workout classes – Providing access or opportunities for physical exercise (whether at the office or in collaboration with a local fitness center) sets an example for your team and demonstrates your commitment to wellness. It communicates that you care about the well-being of your employees.

Bike trails or hiking paths close by – Some companies choose their location based on wellness amenities such as bike trails and hiking paths. This provides opportunities for exercise as well as access to the outdoors, both benefitting employee health.

Healthy food/snacks available – While coffee carafes and soda machines have been a staple in office environments for years, healthy food options are gaining momentum. The bagels, donuts, cookies and other treats may be hard to resist, but more and more people are craving healthy food alternatives. Stocking the office kitchen or break area with a supply of healthy snacks makes a statement, provides a choice and encourages a healthy lifestyle.

High quality water – How easy is it to forget to drink water? While coffee and soda offer flavor and caffeine, water keeps the body hydrated. Provide a quality water option, so employees can refuel properly.

Pleasant colors – Environmental factors impact mood and productivity. Selecting the right color combinations for specific work areas can make all the difference. There is a psychology behind color selections. See how color can impact your team.

Pleasant scent – Aromas are selected and branded for retail and hospitality environments all of the time. The right scent can influence purchasing habits and evoke feelings. Think about a scent that can improve your work environment.

Full service kitchen – Sometimes people just want to make their own lunch or snack. By providing a full service kitchen you are not limiting your employees to eating out, microwaveable meals or other unhealthy alternatives. Providing options and a sense of control supports your team.

Good temperature control – He is too hot; she is too cold. One side of the building is a sauna, while the other side requires people to bring in a space heater. Creating an office environment with the proper temperature control makes it a happier, healthier place to be.

Natural plants – Remember a connection to nature makes the work environment a better place. Real plants provide that connection and support air quality.

Artwork – The right art selections can inspire and put a smile on someone’s face. Art can also create opportunities for conversation and socialization. Happy workers are healthier workers, so try adding a little art into their lives.

Adjustable/Ergonomic office furniture – Remember, this conversation began with the negative impact of sitting on the health of today’s office worker. A variety of furniture options, both desking and seating products, address the diverse ergonomic needs of your workforce. Different body types and sizes as well as providing the flexibility to sit or stand while you work can be addressed with the right furniture selections.

So many options to think about! But there is only one choice to make for the future of your organization – join our movement by choosing ways to Work Well. Contact us at 262.207.6399 or visit us at for a free healthy work environment assessment.