Rise of the Human Factor

Pam Light and Brad Liebman, both regional workplace leaders with HOK in Culver City, California, and St. Louis, respectively, hosted “The Rise of the Human Factor” during NeoCon 2017’s opening day. The program explored the pace at which workplace design is evolving, how humans inform it, and ultimately what practices HOK adopts to craft workplaces that are more dynamic and active.

The increased ubiquity of technology in the professional realm has led a variety of adverse side effects, including “technostress,” or the anxiety caused by technology. Light and Liebman explained that the World Health Organization deemed technostress “the health epidemic of the 21st century,” and costs US businesses $300 billion annually.

While Light and Liebman both agreed one size never fits all when it comes to office designs, certain principles often allow for engagement among employees. Activity-based working affords choice and variety within the routine, while creating several neighborhood environments within an office establishes cohesiveness and reveals the heart at the core of each professional setting. Similarly, a balance of smart technology along with exposure to nature can lead to activity and serve as a catalyst for radically improving wellbeing.

“As we’re helping corporate real estate executives become more intelligent, they’re slowly realizing that their corporate real estate and their portfolio can become a powerful business tool. It doesn’t need to be a liability on a balance sheet,” Liebman said.