Workspace Design Show 2023

Experience Design for Workplace

How to get people back to the office after pandemic? Employee wellbeing has grown in importance, and Experience design has the ability to improve it in many ways. I recently visited Workspace Design Show to find out how to use sensorial and biophilic design to create more inclusive working environments.

Image: Modular OmniRoom by Mute

Better understanding of sensorial differences can support workspace design and wellbeing. Biophilic design is a tool to strengthen connections between people and nature, and also how we experience space & place through senses.


We use 7 senses to get sensory information

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Tactive
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Vestibular (spatial orientation)
  • Proprioception (body awareness)

Source: Oliver Heath Design, leading biophilic design consultancy UK

Designing workspaces that improve health and wellbeing requires addressing different sensorial stimulus needs of individuals and work situations.

Biophilic design takes into account the fact that everybody exists in a spectrum between Hypersensitive (increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli) and Hyposensitive (diminished ability to detect sensory stimuli). The need for sensory stimuli varies depending on the time of day, fatigue, stress and work type & workload.

Neurodiverse (about 15-20% of population) people are more often experiencing either end of spectrum.

According to some recent research about 20-30% of people are hypersensitive but 40% are not sensitive at all. This explains well the popularity of coffee shops as a work space for many people who crave sensorial stimulus.

Research shows that people with high sensitivity (HSP) experience the world in a different way than people who do not have the characteristics. Since Hypersensitive word has some negative connotations, recently it has been suggested to use Responsive instead, which is more neutral.

The Death of Open Plan Office

Open plan offices are cost effective but not inclusive. When they are badly designed they are not suitable for many people. Often, the open plan workspace is in the middle of the room, surrounded by noisy informal collaborative spaces.


Simple zoning solution can provide a much needed more inclusive workplace environment.

Images below are great examples from Modus Workspace on how to create a better zoning scheme.

Zoning by Modus 2023

Most activity happens in the front of the house and quiet spaces are placed in the end where there is least traffic. The main principle is that there is no mixing between quiet and collaborative areas.

Zoning by Modus 2023


More research about Hypersensitivity

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