The influence of new technologies on the organization of work
The organization of office work alone or on a team has changed little in form. Only from the years 1950/60, the regular use of the telephone, typewriters, calculate, and later the microcomputer, have upset the atmosphere of the workplace. The late 1970s, the arrival of the microcomputer upset habits with an artificial organization and over densified landscaped areas. Generally very calm, collected for some, since in the same spirit as the monks. Places of study and writing have radically changed this tranquility as soon as the machines arrive. But the workspaces that are equipped today with new computer technologies have still not changed much in the interior design of offices. This capacity of materials will shift these monks of modern times into new exchanges both intellectual and material and lead them to reconsider the environment of their work.
New requirements, new organizations
To date, office spaces have not kept pace with this change and are still not well adapted.
An already old example, the presence of the microcomputer, introduced at its time in the late 1970s, in office workspaces has not been the subject of reflection on the impact produced among people in relation with this new tool and has trouble finding its place even today.
New technologies: a new source of stress …
This lack of integration and appropriation disrupted among other office parameters, human relations, and working conditions. Another example is the diversion of tools from new technology: the answering machine was initially a presence simulation tool, it was transformed into an absence simulation tool “it filters calls”. Non-adaptation or misappropriation has favored the technostress generated by the new telecommunication tools.
New technologies, despite multiple interests, are a new source of insidious stress that is expensive for the human body, but also very expensive for businesses. The nuisance of the information and communication technology (NTIC), the network breaks down at the precise moment when one must print a report or send an emergency mail, in a landscape packed with information, secret codes, passwords, read the many messages that await a return, accompanied by landline and mobile ringtones.
A new relationship to the object
Luc Robillard, Innovation Consulting Director of the Creative Plan Society explains: “Today we are living an unprecedented revolution in our relationship to the object. In the recent past, in the face of an object, we were mainly looking for a mechanistic relationship: either limiting ourselves to pressing a button ” on/off” or at the other extreme, demonstrating it to try to repair it. This approach is now obsolete. Since the explosion of micro-computing and its connection to digital networks, these objects have become more “intelligent” but also potentially more complex.
The man-machine interface
The modern employee is constantly caught in a dilemma. He must quickly settle what is accumulating on his desk, alive reproach of his delay, his guilt and his impression of inefficiency. He must simultaneously answer the phone, do urgent work, complete a report more or less jostled by his hierarchy that press etc.
The relationships we have with the world of work are changing, evolving, changing. First of all, colleagues who are not necessarily chosen and with whom it is necessary to cohabit yet seven to eight hours a day, in closed environments. In many cases, the lack of living space for each person’s natural intimacy is reduced to a few square meters, consisting of a work table, chair, and storage.
More insidious but revealing of disordered behavior, this dematerialization of office work “word processing, table, e-commerce etc.” requires that we make mental representations to use them well. This necessary abstraction increases the mental burden that is already overwhelmed with information from all sides, whereas since the dawn of time our organism is accustomed on the contrary to manage the shortage by fighting for our subsistence and our survival.
What technology can achieve, the human brain is not yet capable of becoming quickly saturated by the accumulation of tasks and solicitations. The individual then falls into the trap of thinking that because it is technically possible, he can also be capable of it. Loss of the notion of limit and the essential, one feels at once submerged and dependent. An “impression” of not being able to live and work without these prostheses that are mobile, fax or laptop etc.
The crumbling of time also puts us under constant tension. Psychic fatigue and the state of induced nervousness make it more difficult to concentrate, the relationship of conviviality with the other. All this has negative effects on the blood circulation and the nervous system. The new tools “prosthesis of our brain”, the human relations more and more strained are, one notes it well, factors of disturbance, of over-stress; but we must also associate the environment in which the computer tool, the human being and the products, the colors of the supports coexist and evolve in the same closed spaces.
Mobility, a new performance driver
Mobility is another driver of performance for companies. Computer science, communication systems, the very notion of fixed office, are trying to disappear. The acceleration of technological tools or each person must be reachable at any time and everywhere. “New predictable stress” gradually eliminates the so-called “tertiary” work and becomes nomadic. The abandonment of the office building is not yet planned for next, but their needs, their evolution are mandatory; adaptation of the social, qualitative improvement of individual and collective results and techniques, optimization of management costs and information technology.
Today, productivity is measured qualitatively and not quantitatively and will surely change work habits. The landscaped areas are moving towards workstations, personal multipurpose acoustic bubble or activities shared by several people or in some cases for a specific activity “computer pool, meeting room”.
A typical example of the nomadic office: unallocated workstations, a concept invented by Ernst and Young derived from the management of industrial production and applied to the tertiary environment. (Just-in-time) means a workspace consisting of unallocated positions allocated on the basis of bookings “fewer bureaux hoteling” for nomadic workers. Already, tertiary building concepts are emerging in mega-cities. The workspaces are composed of self-service stations, rented according to the rule, first come, first served, bears the name of Free Address.
Let’s go back to the foreseeable evolution of the offices of a structure. The closed office spaces are reduced in a number of square meters, become places of reflection, confidentiality, reception, and direction. The flexibility required for these new concepts makes it necessary to rethink the structure of the building. The walls, the floors, the ceilings, the partitions must have a use and a function of integration, for the different fluids, but also a possible reconfiguration, an acoustic capacity, phonics, a facility of maintenance, resistance to the fire etc.
The floor, wall and ceiling finishes are already designed with fireproof, anti-stain, anti-stain and solid products and fibers. The addition of more refined products of coatings and accessories facilitates the user-friendliness and the comfort, more discreet also in the drawings and the colors. This may be the first reasonable intervention of the partial decrease in heart rate and induced inducing effect on society’s surrounding excitement. Air conditioning, heating, natural and artificial lighting, computer screen reflecting the luminance carrier, poorly adapted viewing angle, have been and are still too often overlooked. The cost of the installations being the sole criterion of selection of the owner.
Rethinking the layout of workspaces
The closed workstation, living space as well as office work has become a room where the environment is designed for activities requiring a lot of concentration (reading, writing, reflection). This type of office must have adequate acoustic performance and confidentiality (meeting, reception of visitors, phoning etc.).
This concept implies and promotes a certain independence of people, an appropriation of the environment for personalization and decoration. Possible negative effect: the folding in his work bubble. The coatings and colors of the floor, wall and ceiling supports will have an effect on people more than anywhere else.
Common, semi-open or open workspaces bringing together a large number of people in the same area have opened an era of proximity. This type of arrangement improves teamwork, structure and people communications.
Increasing noise of all kinds, semi-open and open spaces must give each worker its acoustic autonomy and guarantee the confidentiality of exchanges, reduce the emission and propagation of noise disturbance helped by-products with high sound absorption.
The ease of circulation, the communications, the ideas and the individuals of this type of arrangement with the strong image of novelty and its first spontaneous successes of the spontaneous interaction of the people poses new problems:
Unforeseen disturbance of people in full reflection;
The impression of destabilization;
Non-appropriation of his place of work.
The individual always manifests, in all places of appropriation, his mechanisms of territorial delimitation.
Meeting or conference rooms, large or small, are a confined space, occupied by a higher density of people than in other spaces. The environment is of course of great importance: being enclosed with artificial lighting for the benefit of natural lighting will change our sensory approaches.
Let’s also mention the flooring, wall and ceiling, more or less tonic colors; the reliable reverberators of sounds or not, reconfigurable or not; chairs adapted to a long sitting position or not and finally the acoustics of the room compatible with the function.
These environmental components cited, still incomplete, are crucial for the success or non-success of discussions and validation decisions that may be important for the structure. We can imagine that the tertiary structures that do not pose these types of questions about the serious development of the workspaces, make a miscalculation both on their cost of energy operation, maintenance, equipment, and facilities diverse, but also causes extra stress on the staff and insidiously promotes in particular absenteeism.