Creating Emotionally Intelligent Workspaces: A Design Guide to Office Chemistry, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Creating Emotionally Intelligent Workspaces

A Design Guide to Office Chemistry, 1st Edition

By Edward Finch, Guillermo Aranda-Mena


106 pages | 26 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-09-27
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Emotions in the workplace have until recently been seen simply as a distraction. We often think of work as rational, logical and non-emotional. But organisations are waking up to the key role of emotions and affect at work. Emotions influence how we make decisions, how we relate with one another and how we make sense of our surroundings.

Whilst organisations are slowly embracing the pivotal role of emotions, designers and managers of workplaces have been struggling to keep up. New insights from hard sciences such as neuropsychology are presenting a radically different interpretation of emotions. Yet workplace designers and facilities managers still rely on measuring non-specific states such as satisfaction and stress.

In this book we attempt to capture modern-day interpretations of emotion, looking at emotion in terms of transactions and processes rather than simple cause and effect. We entertain the idea of an ‘emotionally intelligent building’ as an alternative to the much-hyped intelligent building. The assertion is that we should create environments that are emotionally intelligent. Rather than focusing on the aptitudes or shortcomings of individuals at work, we should place closer attention on the office environment. It’s not that we are emotionally disabled – it’s the environment that disables us! The ability of you and me to interpret, control and express emotions may not simply be a result of our own make-up. A radically different outlook considers how our workspace and workplace debilitates or enables our emotional understanding.

In the modern workplace there are many innovations that can undermine our emotional intelligence, such poorly implemented hot-desking or lean environments. Contrariwise there are key innovations such as Activity Based Working (ABW) that have the potential to enhance our emotional state. Through a series of unique case studies from around the world, we investigate key concepts that can be used by designers and facilities managers alike. No longer should designers be asked to incorporate emotional elements as intangible un-costed ‘add-ons’. This book provides a shot in the arm for workplace design professionals, pointing to a new way of thinking based on the emotional intelligence of the workplace.

Table of Contents

Table of contents


Chapter 1: Introduction

Leveraging the power of emotion

What do we mean by emotional intelligence?

Feelings or emotions?

From ‘know-how’ to ‘know who’



Chapter 2: Understanding emotions in the workplace

The ABC of the human mind

Emotion in stages

Types of emotion

Positive psychology

Emotions in practice

Emotion, mood and temperament

Emotion and the environment



Chapter 3: Can a workspace motivate us?

Form follows function

Form follows emotion

Evolution of the office

What makes people tick?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Physiological needs

Safety needs

Affiliation and belongingness needs

Status and esteem needs


Criticisms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

ERG Theory


Chapter 4: The many faces of the Intelligent Building

The death of permanence

Layers within layers

The emergence of the intelligent building (IB)

The High-Tech Building

The Flexible Building

The Interoperable Building

The Green Building

The Arrival of the ‘Sentient Building’

On collision

Emotion detection



Chapter 5: The Emotionally Intelligent Building

Defining emotional intelligence

Can a workspace have emotional intelligence?

Ability Model

Mixed models

Defining the Emotionally Intelligent Workplace

Making sense of it all

The Three Dimensions of Workspaces

The green bus

Putting the pieces together

Emotional Mechanisms

Creating the emotional palette

An emotionally intelligent work setting



Chapter 6: Emotion and the instrumental workspace

Understanding the instrumental perspective

The non-territorial office

Laying down the law

Fitting the person to the workplace

User-centred design

Nomad or vagrant?

Replacing physical walls with psychological walls

The emergence of Activity Based Working (ABW)

The truly territorial office

Behaviour Change




Chapter 7: Emotion and the aesthetic workspace

Being there

Aesthetics and the senses

Aesthetics and emotions

Biophilia and Biomorphic design


Neuroaesthetics and Neuroarchitecture



Chapter 8: Emotion and the symbolic workspace

What is a symbol?

Symbolism and the organisation

The production of space

Workplace Identity

Liminal space

Investigating a ‘crime scene’


The IKEA Affect

Our Biological Wi-Fi

High-trust culture




Chapter 9: Conclusions



About the Authors

Edward Finch is a freelance ‘thought leadership’ author. He obtained his PhD from the University of Reading in 1989 and was Professor in Facilities Management at Salford University (2008–2011). He acted as Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Facilities for 15 years. His writing challenges technological myopia in the workplace, suggesting that we also need to understand what it means to be human.

Guillermo Aranda-Mena is Associate Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and Visiting Professor of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano, UNESCO Chair in Mantua. In 2003 he completed his PhD at the University of Reading and has since collaborated with numerous universities around the world. He continues to travel widely and divides his time between Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, Italy and Melbourne, where he currently resides with his partner Dee and son Memo.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Interior Design / General
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Public, Commercial & Industrial
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Facility Management
PSYCHOLOGY / Neuropsychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Industrial & Organizational Psychology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Construction / General