Rhyme and reason: ten things to never forget about workplace design

From biophilia and quality air flow to colour and textures, this poem – rooted in the academic research – looks at the ten considerations of workplace design

The space where your brain works for its best working day,

Gets your wits all on task now in just the right way.

What you see, what you hear, what you touch with your hand

Puts your head in the clouds or down deep in the sand.


The good people who work in the place you design

Look for messages there where senses intertwine.

Are they respected, acknowledged valued as folks?

Does space say that they matter or is all a hoax?


Is the core of the culture all clearly expressed?

Is the loo clean the coffee hot, wifi the best?

Thoughts beat reality, always talk to the workers,

They’ll tell you what’s what, for this none are shirkers.


Don’t office design and ignore lives on the plains

When we were a young species with prehistory’s pains.

For our brains to soar high we all need to see wood,

A plant and framed nature or some trees in the hood.


We need to look out over our nearby domain

From a place we feel safe and no mental head pain.

We need good air quality in through our very own nose

And a seat ergonomic to give comfort pose.


To refresh and de-stress our too tired work head

To hear nature or see it works like time abed.

Photos or videos or scenes through a real window

Restock our mental energy and are lindo!


To do our best work we need control of our place.

To select our own seat or the light in the space,

Makes our mind work much better and our pulse rate drops

Because we can align our task needs with our props.


That work-place alignment is really key to success:

When we can focus just when we must with finesse

And move along to gather with others we need

Our hearts pitter patter and performance is freed.


Science has probed how our sensory systems drive

What goes on as we work and try so hard to thrive.

What’s been learned about sights, sounds, and smells, and yes, feels,

When applied makes us happy and boosts worker zeal.


The links between humans make firms strong and folks stay.

Building connections via pleasant breaks and pathways

Helps make that happen, so do warm colours and lights,

And conference tables where none feel the slight slights.


To keep all those connections just humming along

Equity and diversity must be more than a song.

Design that makes all feel part, via art and decor

Leads to groups that achieve their best and then much more.


When a space is green it is good for the whole Earth

And boosts up the quality of work there you birth.

When people see and live green when they’re working,

They crack on and create and no useless lurking.


Our brains can take just one meaty chat at a time.

Introduce muffling or white noise to stop mind crimes.

Waterscape soundtracks and big leafed plants in each bay,

Hmm, maybe not jungle but a fresh meadow day.


The best workplaces seem somewhat safe and seem known,

Workers all know how to be and use them as shown.

They change cross time to keep down user’s bore boredom,

Novel additions are judged slight in POE postmortems.


Correct colours and textures and sounds all around,

Don’t matter if staff are all sick on the ground.

Opportunities for movement and sit-stand tables

Keep all workers healthy with no illness labels.


Our pandemic has made it clear to users all

That being without colleagues leads to a fall.

Going back to the office does restore people ties

And clears the wicked work problems in all our lives.


The space where your brain works for its best working day,

Gets your wits all on task now in just the right way.

What you see, what you hear, what you touch with your hand

Puts your head in the clouds or down deep in the sand.

Sally Augustin is a practicing environmental design psychologist and editor of Research Design Connections, based in Chicago. She provides regular scientific commentary for the Academy’s Innovation Zone on new academic research in work and workplace. This poem was co-written with Dr Vanessa Champion of The Space Doctors.
Find exclusive content in the


Premium content for Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.
The latest analysis and commentary on the future of work and workplace in five distinct themes: Research & Insights, Case Studies, Expert Interviews, Trend Publications, and Technology Guides.