BloxHub is a collaborative environment that allows companies of small and large scale to share the same space and work together to devise responses to challenges of global urbanizations and climate change. BloxHub includes the Danish Architecture Center which helps establish Denmark’s relevance to urban planning and design, enabling them to innovate by embracing trial-and-error practices.
Daylight along with electrical lighting are important for people’s mental and physical health, impacting sleep quality, mood, energy, and social interactions. Buildings that maximize access to daylight orient windows toward the south and open-up walls to allow for light to infiltrate deep into a space. Combining daylight with electrical light fixtures that play-off light and disperse it aligns with the Danish’s idea of hygge in both workplaces and residential environments.
Importance of Light
Open plan offices have been found to trigger withdrawal from face-to-face interaction and the collaborative spirit they were intended to cultivate. Instead, BloxHub, the hub for Nordic sustainable urbanization, provides flexibility in sitting arrangements for different types of work and engagement. For example, long, multi-person tables give employees the choice to sit alone or sit with others while more closed-off spaces encourage deep-thinking conversations and focused-type work.
Sitting Arrangements in the Workplace
Having strong social connections at work can translate to healthier and happier employees. Workplaces that provide opportunities for informal interactions, such as while getting lunch ready, can help foster such connections. This kitchen at BloxHub, the hub for Nordic sustainable urbanization, is located in the center of the space. Its openness, allows people to see each other and serves as an invitation for dialogue. The printer can also be found here, another opportunity to mingle.
Informal Spaces in the Workplace
LaunchPad is a space in downtown Bemidji that provides “entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, and professionals an opportunity to co-work, collaborate, network, and learn in an innovative, yet fun, environment.” According to the Greater Bemidji 2017 Annual Report, since 2007, employment has grown 14.6%, which exceeds that of other regional centers. As individuals in communities with high levels of social trust are more likely to be self-employed (Kwon, Heflin, & Ruef, 2013), opportunities for residents to innovate, strengthen the local economy and support the community. Explains Mayor Rita Albrecht, “They have one week [where] someone will come who’s been a successful young entrepreneur and talk about their business….an educational program where they’ll bring in someone to talk about communications and how to do better on social media…, and another week they’ll have someone where you can pitch an idea.”
More than 40 percent of companies on the U.S. Fortune 500 list were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Recognizing immigrants’ financial contributions, the City of Worthington is creating a guide to help potential immigrant entrepreneurs navigate the often confusing codes, laws, and bank regulations. “We have a lot of folks in town that would be great entrepreneurs and one of the things that was kind of eye-opening when I sat with the human resources manager out at JBS he said, ‘I employ people in my plants that were pilots, doctors, city engineers, and all sorts of other things back in their home country you know before they came here. I just see a tremendous amount of potential in these people other than maybe what they’re doing here at our plant’,” reflects Jason Brisson, Director of Community and Economic Development.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, “Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities” and is impacted by factors that range from water cleanliness to the nature of our social relationships. Woodbury THRIVES is a collaboration of civic, service, education, business, and healthcare leaders that help families build a strong foundation; expand access to affordable health services; invest in leaders who can help build a culture of health, and transform Woodbury in ways that make it easier for everyone to live a healthier life. “These players…coming together to understand how can we make a healthier community and defining community in a variety of ways, but also defining healthy in a variety of ways,” says Janelle Schmitz, Assistant Community Development. Woodbury THRIVES operates out of The Reserve, a coworking space in the midst of a vibrant community.
Photo credit: Simi Patnaik from Woodbury THRIVES
The global innovation company, 3M employs over 500 individuals at its Woodbury location, many of whom are Asian immigrants. Close to 14.7% of the residents in Maplewood identify as Asian, the largest racial group after White. The jobs at 3M tend to be upper-end tech positions. Woodbury is well positioned to support these high-earner immigrants and their families through its diverse housing stock, high-performing school district, and well-maintained and connected parks and trails system.
Medtronic, a Fortune 500 company, celebrates its connections to the broader community. The company’s mission is displayed in the welcome desk area for all visitors and employees to view. It states: “Our mission is to improve the health of people and communities through focus, innovation and leadership. We partner with our communities to help people live healthy and productive lives.” In addition, a large atrium showcases a world map, highlighting the Fortune 500 company’s mission through people-centered statistics; in 2017, 28.2 million lives improved in over 140 countries (Fortune 500, 2017).
Medtronic – A Fortune 500 Company
The McKnight Foundation ‘s mission calls for grant-making, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform to unite and empower those served. Eric Muschler, Program Officer, noted that “innovation and solutions come from people who are closest to the problem.” McKnight’s role is to “listen and hear what is being learned on the ground, what’s changing, and then be a voice that supports it in a broader community sense.” This translates into citizen participation that engages communities in new and different ways as a funding criterion as well as a meeting space overlooking the Mississippi river that pays tribute to the city’s origins while providing a setting to plan the region’s future.
McKnight Foundation’s conference space