Proxemics: How space affects interactions and the ways we work

Learn more about how proxemics, the study of space and distance, affects the workplace, as well as the comfort and well-being of employees.

Our perception of space affects our relationships. There are unwritten social norms that dictate how close or far we position ourselves physically. Since these norms affect how we work with each other, it is worth examining them.

Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behavior, communication, and social interaction. The term was coined by the cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall, who conducted extensive research on people’s use of space & and classified space into four types: public distance, social distance, personal space and intimate space. Beck Johnson, Senior Research Specialist for Haworth’s Human Performance Lab, explains them in detail. He clarifies that the actual distance between those spaces is rooted in overall culture, while he describes how proxemics affects the workplace as well as employees’ comfort and well-being.

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