Learning in the workplace

Learning in the workplace has almost become a forgotten task, and is especially important for knowledge workers.

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There are multitudes of different tasks workplaces need to support, each unique to that environment. It might seem obvious, but often we find that employees cannot carry out certain tasks because their workplace isn’t designed to empower it.

There is one task however that seems to be forgotten, but something that plays a part of any employee’s role, and is especially important for knowledge workers: learning.

Knowledge workers are constantly learning, whether through Continued Professional Development (CPD), individual work such as reading reports, research and media, or collaborative projects and sharing knowledge with others. Thus, their learning and work styles can have many similarities.

Environment & performance

A recent study by the University of Salford School of the Built Environment found that the design of the environment can positively affect learning by as much as 25%, with six design aspects having the largest impact on learning: colour, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light.

Comparatively, some of the same factors have been identified to impact on workplace productivity and happiness. In the CBRE Healthy Offices study, both light and natural elements (i.e. biophilia) had at least a 10% improvement in task performance.

Co-design

Designing for learning

There are clear parallels here with the design of office and learning environments. They must carefully and efficiently balance a combination of spaces: areas for quiet, focused work, spaces that facilitate collaborative group work or less traditional creative spaces.

Drawing on innovative learning environment design can also help to build and support a culture of learning. Having spaces more dedicated to, or equipped for, certain types of learning is likely to improve engagement in CPD and other types of workplace learning. Allowing for an ecosystem of spaces also appeals to wider forms and styles of learning. By researching and observing the ways that people learn, we can diversify the way we design for learning.

Post Contributor: Paul Reynolds, Principal Industrial Designer

Paul has a breadth of experience in creating innovative solutions for complex interior projects.

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