According to a Haworth white paper entitled “How Our Prehistoric Past Influences Modern Office Environments”, a lot of what we intuitively sense is good office design stems from our past living on the savannas. While a lot of employer focus on the quality and design of office furniture (which is important), they may neglect other visual and tactile cues that have an even greater impact on workers. For example, an ideal lighting scenario would incorporate areas of light and shade rather than a brightly and evenly illuminated space. Dappled lighting with brighter lighting around the edges of a work area mimics the natural lighting under a tree on a plain – a good position for a human seeking refuge while still being able to keep an eye out for predators.
Visual elements on walls can also have a calming or irritating effect for humans. Wallpaper that is too visually “busy” causes anxiety by making it difficult for humans to identify potential threats with their peripheral vision. A contrasting horizontal stripe around the perimeter of a visual space triggers fear since it catches the eye no matter where a person is looking, alerting them to a boundary and making them feel hemmed in. Want to find out more about how to make the cavemen (and women) at your office more at ease? Read the full paper here and get tips for a new (or very old) way to design your office space.