In this new series of articles, we are going to discuss ways of maximizing the benefits of spatial design and technology for the well-being (including mental, economic, social) of everyone while working in the New Normal

Why are we doing this?  We want to show the power of the work environment and how it can help individuals, businesses, and society thrive. But it is often under-utilized because many of us do not fully understand the nature of and the extent to which our work environments contribute, not only to the work we produce, but to our wellbeing, and growth as well.

We want to help you, our readers, understand this concept and how to use it for optimum benefits. We plan to do so by combining our different expertise, design, and technology.  Yoko Kawai is a Lecturer at Yale School of Architecture and is co-founder of Mirai Work Space. She will be writing on the design aspects. Yvonne Burton, a technology consultant, and president of Burton Consulting International, will be contributing from the technology perspective.

We got together, not only because we are good friends, but also because we believe that seamlessness between design and technology is vital in creating work environments that support people’s well-being and helps them to thrive.

A large percentage of us are now alternating between our physical work spaces (offices, homes, and anywhere in between) and virtual environments (virtual platforms, visual and audio applications) every day. To best serve our needs, these physical and virtual environments should blend harmoniously and efficiently to provide us maximum benefits.

How can we make our work environments work for us?

Well, the easiest answer is by placing human beings at the center. This means taking a human-centric approach when designing work environments. This does not mean that human beings are the center of the world, or that you are looking at the core of an enclosed sphere from the outside. It is actually the opposite. The human-centric approach involves considering the senses and perspectives of the individuals, who will be working and moving in the space, as guiding principles when designing the space.

I (Yoko) first developed this concept using aspects from the Japanese Buddhist way of perceiving the body and space as well as learnings from the concept of “participatory” environment and architecture, as defined by Philip Thiel, a pioneer of environment-behavior studies who taught at MIT, University of Washington, and Tokyo Institute of Technology who also looked to Japanese architecture for his inspiration.  

As human beings, we move around within our homes and offices, from homes to offices, and to and within cities.  We plan to examine the work environment on two distinct levels in this series: the smaller ecosystem within homes and offices and the larger one, in cities and regions. 

Our aim in writing this series is to increase awareness and insight into the changes taking place in the readers’ own work environments in the New Normal. We hope these articles will help to clarify the benefits of the new normal, detail potential issues that might arise, and offer suggestions how to better mitigate them, and map out ways to successfully navigate this transitional time.  

We hope to engage readers and encourage comments and feedback. Please submit comments to:

In our next article, we will discuss the definition of the New Normal work environment. 

(Written by Yoko Kawai and Yvonne Burton)

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