Where are you reading this article right now? Maybe you are browsing on your phone in a noisy café, reading on a high-speed commuter train, or squeezing it in between Zoom meetings in your jam-packed schedule. No matter where you are, it’s almost guaranteed that your brain is working on overdrive to filter out the many distractions vying for your attention. Construction noise, app notifications, and advertisements are all ubiquitous in our modern life, and have been around for so long that most of us accept them as the inevitable cost of human progress. But, what if environmental distractions are actually blocking us from the progress we still need to make?
As a cognitive psychologist, I spent years researching this question. My PhD research focused on understanding how distraction in the environment unconsciously affects how we think, feel, and behave throughout our lives. My colleagues and I discovered that small tweaks to the content of distraction surrounding a person can have big effects on their cognition, a finding that has obvious implications for companies and governments that design the world in which we live and work.
At BEworks, we build bridges between these important decision-makers and the psychological science insights that they need to have. Working with designers, architects, and business leaders, we ensure that physical spaces are designed to promote desired behaviors like focused work, efficient movement, and collaboration, while reducing undesired behaviors, like off-tasking, blocking doorways, and unilateral decision-making. After having previously led BEworks’ healthcare and sustainability portfolios, I am so excited to now be returning to BEworks to lead our work in the application of behavioral science to physical spaces.
I am looking forward to exploring and expanding our partnerships within the kyu collective to help our joint clients create spaces that allow people to think more creatively, work more collaboratively, and do what is needed to solve the biggest challenges facing humanity.
If you too are interested in how insights from psychological science can be applied to shape behavior in the built environment, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn @Jennifer Weeks