In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how our bodies and mind relate to our surrounding work spaces and the elements within them. Now we would like to show how technology plays a role.
Technology is extensive and expansive. When referring to work environments, it can mean the office space with its technological equipment that enables one to perform the responsibilities of a job. It is the tools and appliances that we have on our desks and the multitude of wires crisscrossing and bundled behind or next to work areas. It can also refer to the design of the space in general and how it was created to support the people in it and the functions they need to perform. It is also the atmosphere that is created by mechanisms such as ventilation systems, temperature controls and lighting apparatuses. It is woven throughout the work environment whether it is in the traditional workspace of an office or alternate home/remote work spaces. We turn lights on and off. Heating or cooling comes on at the appropriate times. On the surface, technology is serving us and contributing to our wellbeing and comfort.
Relationship with Technology
Prior to the pandemic, most of us were not inclined to take a deeper look at the possible ways technology was not serving us and not beneficial to our overall wellbeing. We put up with fluorescent lighting that was too bright, offices that were too hot or too cold, crowded cubicles layouts and stale air in our work settings. We endured discomfort or inconvenience thinking it was normal. Or took temporary measures such as opening a window if too hot or keeping an office sweater on the back of our chairs which in most cases we used only in summer because the air conditioning setting made it too cold. We didn’t demand that technology be used to control the environment in more human-centric ways.
Why can’t heating be programmed to work in conjunction with collective body temperatures of the people in the space instead of being set at a degree that is independent of the amount of heat already being organically generated?
Technology is capable of doing more than we demand of it. It is capable of composing lighting environments for us to work indoors without experiencing any deficiency needed for ocular optimization. It can be manipulated to maintain an ambient atmosphere that keeps us on an even keel – warm enough to be comfortable but cool enough for us to stay awake and alert. It can also be programmed to maintain proper oxygenation and remove stale particles for us to breathe as naturally as if we were out in nature.
People’s lack of interest in making their needs known has prevented the technology industry from fully understanding what consumers’ needs are, and how they can be best served. At the same time, the industry has not communicated its full capability and capacity to widespread relevant audiences.
Interacting with Technology
In our work spaces, we are interacting, passively or actively, with technology in every moment. This seamless interconnectedness of our bodies with the technical devices and systems around us makes any space we occupy a part of us. Our movements and motions impact the energy of the space, creates new energy that is absorbed by the space, which in turn causes fluctuations in the elements mentioned earlier.
For the environment and the technology in it to work for us, we must become conscious of what is happening in the unseen space that directly impacts us. For a truly human-centric environment to work, there needs to a better understanding and appreciation of this continual bi-directional cause and effect occurring between body and space, and the technology infrastructure that is present.
Our next article will look at Kinesthesis and the work environment.
(Written by Yoko Kawai and Yvonne Burton)