A More Inclusive Approach to Multisensory Workplace Design [HSW]

Multisensory design is a promising approach that fosters exceptional workplaces by bridging user experience demands and prioritizing both functional needs and diverse human factors. Our research explores the role of multisensory, personality-based, and strengths-based factors in creating inclusive and effective work environments that prioritize wellbeing and productivity - employing social science, behavioral psychology, and environmental design to develop evidence-based recommendations that enable more effective activity-based-working. It is generally known that organizations can accommodate diverse needs by providing a range of space types for workers to choose from based on preference and activity (also known as activity-based-working). However, simply providing an even variety of spaces is not an efficient use of space. Leveraging extensive survey data, we've developed worker profiles and uncovered new insights for environmental planning. In addition to environmental attributes (e.g. level of noise, brightness, formality, enclosure), qualities studied include Big 5 personality traits (extroversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness), individual workflow preferences (e.g. synchronous vs asynchronous communication, auditory vs visual learning), and the 34 Clifton Strengths. We hypothesize that considering the relationships between these factors and incorporating them in the design process will lead to more successful and inclusive workplaces that achieve the level of customizability workers seek while maximizing the ability for employees to thrive. Many of these design information layers are new and nascent in terms of being tested in workplaces; however, findings indicate they offer insight around how to positively influence space utilization and elevate well-being, satisfaction, and productivity. By sharing our results and methodologies, we hope to contribute to the ongoing global reassessment of offices and repurposing of existing structures, while reinforcing the need to address the relationships between human factors and environmental preferences in office redesigns.

Melissa Marsh, Assoc. AIA

Founder and Executive Director


Melissa Marsh is Founder and Executive Director of PLASTARC, a social research, workplace innovation, and real estate strategy consultancy. Her work leverages the tools of social science and business strategy to help organizations make more data-driven and people-centric real estate decisions. Melissa combines quantitative and qualitative social science research with architectural expertise and is dedicated to shifting the metrics associated with workplace from “square feet and inches” to “occupant satisfaction and performance.” This holistic approach enables PLASTARC to recommend evidence-based interventions that make the built environment more people-centric and responsive, promoting both individual wellness and business success.

Amy Rosen, AIA

Sociospatial Designer


Amy Rosen is a Sociospatial Designer at PLASTARC in New York City.  They recently served as the 2018-2019 AIAS National President, the 2019 Student Director on the AIA National Board of Directors, and a 2020-2021 At-Large Representative on the AIA Strategic Council, where they served as a Co-Convener for the Mental Health and Architecture Incubator.  They were born and raised in Los Angeles, and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2012, where they received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Science in Sustainable Design from Carnegie Mellon University.

Amy applies integrated design methodologies to everything they do - seeking opportunities to tie architecture into systematic and fluid urban networks. Amy is an advocate for the power of design - to inspire, to unify, and to heal - and is especially passionate about queer space theory, efficient urban water management strategies, and innovative ways to blur the boundaries between the private and public realms. Using their architectural education as a backbone, Amy actively incorporates equity and social sustainability into their design process. Amy further leverages a passion for data, research, difference, and experimentation in order to unveil innovative design strategies that empower users and ensure a more resilient future.

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