Human-Centric Design and How To Use it in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Product and service designers aim to create commodities that consumers want to purchase. Human-centric designers consider the user experience at each step of the design process to create optimized products and services, and the concept is helpful when designing spaces as well. If you're a designer or interested in design, learning more about what it means to be human-centric can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what human-centric design is, describe its benefits, detail how to use it and offer helpful tips for improving your workplace design.

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What is human-centric design?

Human-centric design is a strategy for designing that focuses on how humans use products and structures. Designers who use this process consider the human perspective at each point in the design and creation process. Those who create human-centric products think first of a problem or common need and then create services and designs that can solve that problem. These are some fundamental characteristics of human-centric design:

  • Empathy for the user

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Business-focused goals

  • Iterative design process

  • Environmental understanding

  • Multidisciplinary skills

Related: How To Create a Productive Workspace (With Benefits)

Benefits of human-centric design

You can apply human-centric design to products, services, spaces and structures. Though application can differ depending on the situation, there are some common benefits for each. These are some benefits of human-centric design:

  • Increase productivity: Whether in the workplace or for personal use, human-centric design makes it simpler for people to take advantage of their space and the items in it. For example, a human-centric workspace may inspire creativity, while a human-centric kitchen may allow a home cook to quickly prepare meals.

  • Create valuable products: As a product designer, your objective is to create products and services that consumers want to buy. Creating products that have and maintain their value can increase your consumer base and reputation in the market.

  • Develop a powerful brand: Using human-centric design can help consumers find products that solve their problems and encourage them to develop brand commitment. When customers receive consistent value and see a human-centric design in your products, they may be more likely to recommend the brand to their friends.

  • Guide improvement efforts: After creating a product, you may be unsure of how to improve it for the next iteration or update. By using the principles of human-centric design and gathering feedback from users, you can take advantage of clear guidance for improvement.

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How to use workplace human-centric design

If you're a manager or other business leader, you may help design workplaces for teams within your organization. The layouts and features of these workspaces can influence productivity and team member satisfaction, so it's important to consider their needs. These are the steps you can follow to use human-centric design in your workplace:

1. Communicate with your team members

When designing or improving a workplace, it's important to gather feedback from the staff members who inhabit the space. They can provide you with suggestions for improvement and communicate the problems they have with the space. By gathering this information, you can center them in your decision-making, allowing you to apply human-centric design in the workplace. For example, some team members may express an interest in more natural light, which can lead you to choose an office space with more windows.

2. Incorporate flexibility into the design

Not all team members are the same, and that means some may enjoy workspace changes, while others don't. The disparity in team members' needs is why incorporating flexibility into your design can be beneficial for all. Allowing each person to take advantage of the workspace features they enjoy can optimize the experience for everyone. For example, if team members express an interest in a more active lifestyle for the office, you may install standing desks. To incorporate flexibility, consider desks that can adjust from sitting to standing to accommodate everyone.

Related: What Is An Open Office Plan?

3. Improve physical and digital workplaces

After gathering information about team member preferences, you can improve both physical and digital workplaces. Making a human-centric physical workspace may include an open layout, natural light, high-quality airflow, ergonomic chairs and tools and areas for rest. To improve digital workspaces, consider programs that allow people to easily collaborate with one another, software to improve remote communication with human resources and meeting schedules that work for everyone.

4. Enhance social and developmental aspects

After improving the features of the workplace, you can consider the social and developmental aspects. To create a human-centric design for these, consider the opportunities your team members may be interested in. For example, you may offer social events or the opportunity to earn certifications and grow their skills.

5. Consistently ask for feedback on design

Human needs consistently change and develop, so it's important to make consistent feedback part of your design. Create avenues that team members can use to provide feedback on office design. Review the information you gather periodically to determine if you can make changes to improve the human-centric design in the workplace.

Related: Human-Centered Design: Definition and Example

Tips for improving workplace design

Improving workplace design can boost staff productivity and satisfaction. These are some tips you can use to improve the human-centric design in your workplace:

  • Look for examples: If you want to learn more about how to make your workplace human-centric, consider visiting offices that incorporate those elements. You can learn more about the process and make notes of the aspects you want to use in your own workplace.

  • Hold design meetings: Holding a meeting to include everyone in design decisions can improve overall team satisfaction and allow you to consider all opinions and potential issues with certain design choices. For example, if you want to add a scented diffuser to the office, you may learn that some team members have sensitivities to strong smells.

  • Focus on health: Incorporate elements into your design that improve team member health, such as plants, hydration sources and healthy snacks. A healthy staff member may be more productive and provide more value to the company.

  • Consider distractions: Some human-centric design elements can be helpful, but it's important to consider potential distractions as well. For example, the fresh air from an open window may improve air quality, but the noise from the street may be a distraction from productive work.

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