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Rajat Paharia's post The Wizard of Oz points to a variety of articles about the collaborative works of Applied Minds and Herman Miller. Their lastest design release is called the Babble and it is to be used in open spaces to distort sound and allow for privacy.
This device and the technology should be considered by HR during the facilities design phase (for open space environments) when the "policy" questions are being asked: Who gets an office and why? Where will performance conversations be conducted? Where will sensitive strategy sessions be conducted?
What is even more interesting to me than the technology is the picture that Rajat points us to. What do you think the average age is and what are the implications of that for the future of technology, design and work? (We might also notice the gender and race of the group too.) Maybe Rajat can get us started with his initial thoughts?
I was surprised at the amount of grey hair in the picture. Having worked at a large product design company and with several people in the field, it seems to be very youth focused. Whether it's because of the long hours/low pay, or the belief that young people have more creative spark, or that they have more of the cutting-edginess that you need to cut through the clutter, I don't know. This could just be my personal experience, here in the SF Bay Area, and maybe there are more older workers at places like DEKA. Contrasting the look of some websites is an interesting exercise, to see who the companies are trying to appeal to for both customers and employees:
One of the big challenges for designers is always empathy. Sometimes you have firsthand experiences that gives you a foundation on which to do your research. Other times you don't - then how do you get a core understanding of who the end users are, their needs, the challenges they face? Young designers often have to use tools and scenarios to accomplish this, like the ones detailed here.
I bring this up because the workforce is trending older. So it brings up an interesting question - who should be designing the office spaces of the future, and who should they be designing them for? The growing number of older workers or the new tech-savvy 20-somethings entering the workforce?
A final thought on Babble - I'd love to have something like this that I could carry around with me during the day that was sampling snippets of my conversations, and then turn it on at night when I'm going to bed, falling asleep to the fragments of my day. Like a personal Akufen.Permalink to Comment
Appreciate your comments and observations Rajat. You're right about empathy. Actually it is probably one of the attributes required for most of us in the workforce - needing to understand others from their perspectives - and if you don't know what it is like to be older and don't remember what it was like to be younger,or to be the other sex, or to be another color, religion, etc....well many important details and specifics don't get addressed. (In my last job, I was the oldest person (at 42) on a seven person management team. The COO was 32 and there were four women execs - Mktg., Finance, HR and COO. Anyway, avg. age at the company was 26 - so we kept it a very young, hip and current environment. See previous post the fountain of youths http://blogs.bnet.com/hr/?p=64. It definitely is becomes a corp culture question to be defined.Permalink to Comment