The Totem Experience: A design intervention to enhance social well-being in Flexible Offices

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Examensarbete för masterexamen
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2021
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de la Fuente Crespo, Elena
Riestra Nava, Illán
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An increasing number of companies are adopting Activity-based Flexible Offices (AFOs) in search of greater efficiency and lower running costs. These offices differ from traditional offices in that they consist of a number of different environments with unassigned workstations from where the employees can decide to work depending on their tasks (Danielsson, 2016). The adoption of a new layout inevitably has an effect on the social dynamics at the office, which could affect the well-being at work. There is a gap in the literature about the relationship between AFOs and social well-being. The goal of this project is to research this topic through a design intervention in a flexible office, following the Empirical Research through Design Method. The project performed interviews in a flexible office to identify opportunities for a design intervention in the office of study. The analysis of those interviews prompted formulating a set of assumptions of how social well-being could be enhanced through a design intervention. After an ideation phase, an experience and a mediating tool were prototyped to be validated in the office. The result is the Totem Experience, an activity supported by a mediating tool, aiming to enhance the social scenario at the office by increasing social awareness and encouraging non-work-related conversations between all the employees, at the same time it provides a way for self-expression. The concept of Totem was tested in the office, getting generally favourable results that seem to prove the assumptions and to validate all the key goals of the intervention.
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Empirical research, Flexible offices, Social interaction, Social awareness
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