Workplace Prototype for a New Era
Seeking a prototype to transform organizational culture
What kind of space could enhance the creativity of human resources while also promoting work styles that optimize output? This question was addressed by the Institute of Future Design, Panasonic's consulting department for product planning and design.
At a time when work and personal lives are now being merged, better work results will lead to greater well-being and happiness. With the idea of enhancing creativity to produce the best work results, we began thinking about ways to transform organizational culture and achieve the work styles necessary to create unprecedented value.
That is how SWiTCH SPACE was born. More than just spatial design, it is a prototype for workplaces in a new era, developed by better understanding the relationship between people and the places they utilize.
What is SWiTCH SPACE?
In recent years, smoking rooms and similar spaces have been disappearing due to the shift away from smoking in modern culture. However, this has also led to the loss of two benefits. One is the habit of taking a break to refresh the mind and to improve one's mood, and the other is taking time to chat with others, which enhances well-being. SWiTCH SPACE is a new kind of break room for today, a new concept space that helps to achieve "brain switching" in addition to the benefits of chatting and refreshing the mind.
What is "brain switching"?
Creative people are able to effectively use three subnetworks of the brain, namely, the default mode network (DMN), salience network (SN), and executive network (EN). These creative people use the DMN to first intuitively obtain a good collection of ideas. They then employ the SN to narrow down these ideas into three broad groups, before using the EN to logically distill the three broad groups into one idea. To increase creativity you need to master the use of these brain networks, but switching from one to the other is not as easy as flipping a switch. Therefore, SWiTCH SPACE was designed as a place to promote this kind of network shifting. It helps you switch your brain to the network mode you need next.
A four-step behavioral system that encourages "brain switching" based on brain science and spatial design
They say that once you lose your concentration, it takes about 23 minutes to regain concentration. Using only about 10 minutes of this time, the SWiTCH SPACE system allows you to experience the four steps of "walk, feel, charge, and chat," by combining spatial design with actions based on brain science. This triggers "brain switching," thereby promoting enhanced individual creativity and greater capability for the organization.
- step 01：Walk
- Improve the discipline and functioning of your brain by making daily aerobic exercise a habit
- step 02：Feel
- Wake up the five senses and shift the brain into neutral
- step 03：Charge
- Make a SWiTCH FOOD selection according to the brain mode you want to shift into
- step 04：Chat
- Have a chat to activate the brain and increase productivity
A new cultural habit
With a high participant utilization rate of 95.3%, SWiTCH culture has already begun to take root. It is helping to kick-start communication between coworkers, including superiors and subordinates.
When SWiTCH SPACE is visited often, chance encounters occur, and communication begins as spontaneous chatting. It can become a place for superiors and subordinates to have casual discussions, or an opportunity for colleagues who once only saw each other in smoking areas to meet again. Conversations held near the simulated campfire inside SWiTCH SPACE can make participants feel especially relaxed. Through this communication, ideas are exchanged and organizational capability is enhanced. Many participants have been using SWiTCH SPACE multiple times a day for several minutes at a time, and a cultural habit of visiting the space whenever their concentration fades has started to take root.
The SWiTCH SPACE model encourages new ideas
The pandemic has caused work styles to change more rapidly than ever before. Home and work lives, private and public profiles, as well as online and offline activities were once kept strictly separate but are now all becoming blended together. In today's world where boundaries are becoming blurred and everything is being caught up in a new digital wave, there is a growing need for spaces where people can take a break and recharge. This is the need being met by SWiTCH SPACE, a forest-like environment that can activate the five senses.
For 99% of its history, humankind has lived close to nature. Looking to the future means also learning from the past, and by following brain science research, we could restore the kind of brain function that human beings once depended on to survive in nature. However, it is not practical to live like our distant ancestors, and the cost of filling indoor spaces with a diversity of plants would be prohibitive. Therefore, we need to find a technology-based model that can be set up in all kinds of places. Rather than just creating spaces to relax, there also needs to be a system to boost human performance. SWiTCH SPACE is this kind of solution, and was devised and implemented even before the pandemic hit.
In order to promote new work styles and workplace cultures based on the SWiTCH concept, we would like to bring the benefits of SWiTCH SPACE to offices, homes, and other community places.