Designing for workplace diversity

An office with desks in a row with computer screens and people sitting at the desks.An inclusive workplace is one that values individual differences and makes people feel welcome and accepted. Workplaces and workplace polices need to think about how to be inclusive from the outset. As Pragya Agarwal says in her article on Forbes website, “Inclusive Design is not an afterthought… it has to be planned beforehand…” This also means that employees are not segregated based on any special requirements they might have. This is a thoughtful article and gives examples throughout. It is good to see universal design and inclusive thinking applied to both the physical and cultural aspects of the workplace.  The aim of a “diversity manager” is to make themselves obsolete – that is, the job is done.
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From diversity to inclusion at work

A mosaic of many different faces and nationalitiesWhen it comes to workplace diversity and measuring business performance there is no one right way to do this. According to a systematic review, equality and diversity need to be “embedded in the business strategy, not treated as an ad-hoc addition”. As with all universal design thinking – it has to be thought of from the outset and then thought about throughout the design process, whether it is a building, a service or a business policy and strategy. The research was commissioned by the Design Council. The findings make for interesting reading because they discuss the benefits as well as some of the drawbacks that need managing along the way. There are several references to original research included in the article. 

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Shaped by Space

Looking down into a large open plan office with desks and partitionsWinston Churchill famously said, “‘we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Many would agree. But what about space – does that shape us too? In his article about office workspaces, Scott Simpson says the design of the spaces in which we live, work and play has a profound effect on how people interact.Sometimes the effect is quite subtle, and sometimes it is more obvious, but in all cases, space shapes the context for what we do and how we do it, even though its effect is frequently taken for granted.” He goes on to say that the way space is configured creates the context, sets the tone and gives off subtle yet powerful messages for how people are expected to behave. The article is on the Design Intelligence website.  

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