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Inclusive Design of Workspaces: Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Users

By Robbert Graham

This newsletter article relates to the recent open access article “Inclusive Design of Workspaces: Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Users” written by Olivia Phoeby Narenthiran,  Jose Torero  and Michael Woodrow 2 which was published on 12 March 2022.

Until recently, the inclusive design of the built environment has concentrated mainly on physical barriers and mobility issues. Over time, improvements have been made to the physical built environment mostly due to the minimum legal requirements of Part M of the building regulations. A recent shift in awareness of neurodiversity and developmental disorders such as autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD has created a new focus on designing for people with invisible conditions. People with disabilities are still facing widening income disparity, disability awareness, discrimination, and physical workplace barriers.

One of the aims of this study was to understand and identify the ways to cut down on the physical barriers that all people face within their workplace. During the COVID-19 pandemic many people have adapted bedrooms and living areas to be used as work / study spaces. As a result, this may promote inclusive design and change the ways

in which the design process will adapt office and home spaces.
To understand how people working remotely from home adapted their work areas along with the barriers they still face, the research involved creating a survey and sending it to a variety of staff and students at a university in the United Kingdom. 

Several issues were identified following receipt of the survey findings. For example, information on inclusivity was restricted and greater importance is given to workplace productivity and comfort through design guidance and standards. Importantly, the social model of disability places importance on designers to create or remove barriers experienced by the user.

Data from the surveys identified that lighting and the ergonomics of furniture leads to the greater wellbeing of participants. The significance of the design and relationship of workspaces between mobility disabilities and ergonomics, and between neurodivergence and zoning/partitioning was identified.

Overall, research related to ‘non-mobility’ conditions using focus groups and interviews is required along with the preparation of case studies examining the relationship between a responsive workspace design and an inclusive workplace environment.

A key finding that influences a user’s enjoyment of a workplace was the ability to have control over their environment. For example, participants had the ability to control lighting and heating to stay alert which is an example of a user’s needs which can be considered as part of the design. One of the main conclusions of the research found the importance of working with users and understanding their needs whilst finding creative inclusive solutions

To read the article “Inclusive Design of Workspaces: Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Users”, click here:  

Alternatively, if you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].