Human-Centric Design in the Workforce


As much as we might wish it, time doesn’t stand still. And nowhere is that more evident than in today’s workplace. Workplace trends have always been a marker of cultural, economic, and societal change but the pace of that change has picked up dramatically in recent years.

Accelerated technology adoption, the shift to remote workspaces, labor shortages, post-pandemic economic contraction - we’re entering an era of almost non-stop disruption. 

Companies must adapt to meet these challenges, embracing a more human-centric approach to work that maximizes employee potential and ensures productivity in tough times. Putting your people at the core of your operations doesn’t just help you retain and attract talented staff, it also gives firms the flexibility they need to respond to future headwinds. Because if there’s one certainty in business, it’s that change is inevitable.

What is human-centric design?

Human-centric design is about prioritizing people. In the workplace, this means putting individuals, not results, at the core of workflows, processes, and tools. It’s not about physical office facilities, it’s about thinking of your workplace as a community, rather than a location.

Also known as people-centric design or behavioral design, this way of working recognizes that employees aren’t automatons, each individual has different needs, motivations, and stumbling blocks. The challenge is accommodating these, while maintaining productivity and driving growth.

Shifting from location-centric to human-centric workspaces

Consistency vs flexibility

Rigid schedules, formulaic processes, and inflexible deadlines work great if your office is staffed by robots, but humans generally need more wiggle room. 

In today’s environment, workers don’t just want flexibility - they expect it. The pandemic prompted many to reevaluate their work-life balance and, as a recent study shows, 75% of workers now expect their employer to support a more flexible schedule. 

What this looks like will vary depending on the employee. Some will favor remote working, some may ask for a four-day work week, others will pick their own hybrid schedule. While the thought of these varied calendars might leave managers in a cold sweat, it’s important to consider whether their objections stem from a blind belief that attendance equals productivity or if their concerns are truly justified.

Research shows that work flexibility increases employee engagement, job satisfaction, and wellbeing. It also gives employers the edge in a competitive marketplace. With more positions than applicants, the employer-employee dynamic is shifting and companies that cling to the traditional 9 to 5 are likely to lose out.

Accidental vs intentional collaboration

In a location-centric office, collaboration is a fluid, almost accidental, process. Colleagues mingle over the watercooler, exchange ideas as they move between desks, and brainstorm while grabbing coffee.

In a human-centric workspace, collaboration tends to be more formal to accommodate a team’s different schedules and needs. And that’s okay. We’re used to thinking of creative collaboration as a mysterious process that happens whenever inspiration strikes, but innovation actually thrives in a structured environment. Research shows that constraints help focus innovation and motivate employees to think creatively.

Hands-on management vs empathetic leadership

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
-Ernest Hemingway 

If you’re going to structure your workplace around your people, you need to trust them. 

Human-centric leaders understand that trust and empathy are integral to effective management. They reject the old-school style of ‘management by walking around’ in favor of a more hands-off approach. 

Noone likes being under scrutiny, feeling as if they’re being closely watched because they can’t be trusted to hit their targets. Workers got very comfortable in their home offices during the pandemic, and those employees won’t appreciate giving up that newfound independence

Empathetic management means focusing on output rather than oversight. While managers should be attentive to signs of burnout, that doesn’t mean hovering over workers like a helicopter parent. Show employees that you respect and trust them, and they’ll respond in kind.

Employee productivity monitoring solution Prodoscore helps managers monitor their team’s progress without unnecessary intrusions. This innovative software provides insight into how employees interact with company tools to give leaders visibility into daily activity, productivity gaps, and signs of impending burnout. Support and manage your team from a single, easy-to-use dashboard. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration.

How will visibility impact your business?