In our built environment, far too often have we overlooked the significance of space to the well-being of a person. Nevertheless, through design and innovation, the formation of a holistic workplace can be within our grasp. When faced with intractable problems involving the environment and its end-users, a human-centered approach is the optimal method in creating a pragmatic solution tailored to the users’ needs.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) through its Human Capital Committee, explored the area of human-centered design and innovation in their recently held webinar entitled “Navigating towards a human-centric workplace” which took place via Zoom last September 18, 2020. The webinar was opened by ECCP Executive Director, Florian Gottein.

IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling covered the process of how one can achieve design solutions catered to the personality of users. She stated that human-centric design is an approach to problem-solving that begins with people and ends with creative solutions tailed to the users’ needs.

There are three phases in designing a workplace fit for purpose: Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. Gail emphasized on knowing the user personalities, “Designing a solution that will work for everyone means talking to both extreme users and those merely in the middle of your target audience.”

Inspiration comes from users’ experience, which you are to gather, and this phase is aligned with headcount modeling. Meanwhile, the ideation phase is where you start making sense of the data you gathered from the users, generating ideas and solutions that may be discarded or kept. Lastly, the implementation phase is when you bring your solutions to life and to the users.

Gail explained what the process emanates in execution, “In collaboration with designers, you start refining the ideas and models into creative concepts established by the company-wide engagement you conducted… The users or the employees would feel that they were a part of it and that the space was intentionally designed for them.”

On her presentation of happiness and wellbeing in the workplace, Sujatha Ganapathy explains that our social and physical environment is the largest determinant of our health. She highlighted the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and how spaces can affect our health.

While there has been an uptick in sustainable developments, investing in the wellbeing of people can likewise bring fruitful outcomes such as improvements that increase occupant productivity. “The workplace should be designed in such a way that individuals have access to work environments that they need to best perform daily tasks,” said Sujatha.

Both employers and employees are finding the need to have a change in the workplace. A human-centered approach can help reshape the workspace to meet those needs of people. One of the important things businesses can offer their employees is an environment where they can feel safe, healthy, energized, inspired, and happy.

In terms of the facilities within our workplace, Binky Figueroa laid down a process that can best safeguard employees for their return to the office and adjusting to the new normal. Rethink, reimagine, and relearn.

According to Binky, as we shift our focus from maintaining facilities to focusing on people, there must first be training that employees have to undergo before returning to the workplace — this is the rethinking phase. In the reimagine phase, there should be an introduction and incorporation of new technologies that tighten the health and safety of employees.

Finally, in the relearning phase, Binky stressed “As we go towards workplace transformation, we’re about to start our journey or road to a conscious workplace culture.”

The webinar’s closing remarks were delivered by ECCP Human Capital Committee Chair Jose Bantiling.

A conscious workplace engages employees and evolves culture. In accomplishing a human-centered environment, the elements of innovation, design, and collaboration must be present. “Design thinking mindset is not for designers anymore only. It is a tool now to assist the stakeholders and the designers in producing a human-centric innovation,” expressed Gail.

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