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7 September 2016

HOK’s Kay Sargent Explores the Impact of Design on Workplace Attitudes

AMC Theatres' Theatre Support Center

Kay Sargent, ASID, IIDA, CID, LEED AP, senior principal and director of HOK’s WorkPlace practice, explores how to create work environments that give occupants opportunities to be happy, healthy, empowered and engaged.

kay-sargentenvironmental-portrait-42m“People are the chief currency and greatest asset of any business. With up to 80 percent of a company’s expenses coming from human resources, it’s vital that their workforce is productive, engaged and empowered. Unfortunately, 68 percent of U.S. workers are disengaged, according to the latest edition of Gallup’s annual engagement survey.

“Though there are many factors contributing to this alarming statistic, attitude plays a major role in workplace engagement. And although a well-designed space will have a positive impact on the occupants, we cannot discount or downplay the impact of individual attitudes.”

“A bad attitude is contagious and a good one is infectious. This means the effectiveness of open plans or activity-based work (ABW) spaces may depend on how they are used and who is occupying them, in addition to how they are designed.”


“Experiments within various workspaces have revealed that once employees are assigned a space, they tend to lay down roots. This reduces their mobility within the office while making them even more vulnerable to ‘toxic workers.’”

“No one voluntarily sits next to a whiner — except perhaps another whiner. Positive people want to be near those with similar attitudes and energy. This organic selection process diminishes the ability for negative, toxic employees to rub off on those who choose not to be in that setting, whereas assigned workers with little to no choice are impacted daily.”

“No workplace can single-handedly solve an HR issue or cure employees with a bad attitude. But we can offer people options, embed healthier alternatives and provide them with choices so they’re not forced to sit next to a toxic person all day.”

Work Design