Office Design

Video: Wayfinder Software Works Hard, So You Don’t Have To

David Spence
September 24th, 2013

Mental Maps Aren’t Great for Wayfinding

In the video below, University of Notre Dame professor Laura Carlson discusses how people navigate unfamiliar buildings. According to Dr. Carlson, three factors that contribute to a person’s ability to navigate a certain place: the features of the building, the mental map the person makes for themselves, and their spatial ability.


In terms of building a mental map, a person might use certain features or landmarks of the building to help them find their way around. However, the article accompanying this video says that they may not always remember these features accurately. “For example, if they turn left at a given intersection, choosing a corridor with a 70 degree turn, they may misremember this instead as a 90 degree turn, and not recognize the intersection on the way out of the building.”

This is why using wayfinder software at the office can be a great advantage. While Carlson’s research deals more with people who are visiting a place that’s new to them, it’s interesting to think about these problems in term of workers at corporate offices. Why? Employees at companies with more than 200 people may sometimes feel like they’re navigating an entirely new place when they visit an unfamiliar floor. With wayfinder software to help them, however, they can easily find where that person is seated—without having to rely on faulty memory tricks.

It’s true that the worker could receive directions from another person to find what they’re looking for. But as Carlson points out in her video, spatial abilities are different in each person. If the person helping the worker has a poor sense of direction, the worker may still end up spending more time looking for the other employee than they really should. Wayfinder software can tell the worker that employee’s pinpoint location, which can help the company operate more smoothly. With the software to guide them, they won’t spend any unnecessary time getting lost or following bad directions.

On a related note, there’s also the issue of a worker’s being moved to a different spot in the building. If there’s no central system for tracking these moves, the searching worker may have the wrong information, meaning they could be on the wrong floor altogether. With a resource like OfficeSpace Software, however, each employee’s contact information will be accurate and up-to-date. The worker won’t be led on a wild goose chase; they’ll easily find what they need and can proceed with the rest of their day.