If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle farm, surrounded by beige and grey, starved of daylight and penned in like sheep, you’ll know that office design has an impact of how you feel and how you work. Now, Herman Miller, who hosted the excellent workshop “The Art and Science of Wellbeing” that I wrote about in my last blog, do not do cubicle farms. Their showroom, where the event was held, showcases the latest layouts and furniture and that they create for their clients. Go and see, it’s all lovely.
It’s not an accident, though. They do extensive research, to a degree that is impressively thorough and innovative, so that their designs are informed by the best thinking and the latest research. They want to understand the relationship between work and life and what the needs are of the people they are designing for.
To figure out these needs, they have carried out an exhaustive review and analysis of the last 80 years of research in the fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as talking to thought leaders from around the world. From this, they have identified six core needs that we all have, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc. These are:
Security – We desire health, safety, familiarity, and competence.
Status – We seek recognition of our contributions.
Achievement – We strive for excellence and take pride in our accomplishments.
Autonomy – We seek freedom in our actions and decisions.
Purpose – We want to make a meaningful difference.
Belonging – We want a meaningful connection to others.
I wanted to share this because I think it’s an excellent summary and a simple but hugely useful framework. Whether it’s for office designs, company culture or for our own lives, it’s a simple template to measure and assess where we are and what solutions will move us forward.
Of course, meeting these needs is as difficult and complex as ever and a lifelong journey for us all but it is enormously helpful to have them spelt out so clearly. I will be incorporating them into my work in coaching and working with organisations on their culture, as well my own development. I suggest you consider how you can use this in your work and life.