Henshaws helps university students with ‘The Future of Work’ project

Earlier this year, our charity was contacted by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to see if we were able to support a group of Art undergraduate students who were embarking on an exciting project called ‘The Future of Work.’
Read about how we supported them to think about workplace design features to support disabled employees.

Joint project with Bruntwood

Manchester Metropolitan University were working with Bruntwood on this project, who are a large commercial property company (who also happen to be our charity HQ landlords in Stretford); Bruntwood were interested in setting a ‘blue skies thinking’ project to devise new concepts for the future of work in the city.

They were particularly interested in exploring what they needed to be thinking about when designing commercial spaces for people with different disabilities. The students had an empty space to base work on for their designs in Bruntwood’s Manchester Club venue in the city centre.


Students researched, generated and devised concept proposals that gave insights into how the workplace of the future could inhabit our changing city lives. The project was broad and aimed to allow flexibility for interpretation across disciplines and media, with a further twist in the final weeks as we headed into lockdown and the future started to look quite different in response to the realities of COVID-19 and how this could potentially affect the way we work.

Students were encouraged to explore different user groups, including visually impaired people, and how they interact with office spaces or working environments, and what challenges they face.

Manchester Club 2

Visual Impairment Awareness Training (VIAT) for students

The students gleaned inspiration from a research workshop with Henshaws – Mark from our Digital Team and Simon our Senior Rehab Officer visited the students and led a mini Visual Impairment Awareness Training (VIAT) session at Bruntwood’s Manchester Club building in the city centre back in early March 2020.

This got the students thinking about how sight loss impacts a person’s ability to navigate, access information and work from a hot desk (much of this was done with the students wearing blindfolds!) We also discussed solutions including contrast, tactile information, lighting and landmarks, as well as demonstrating some technology that is designed to support daily living.

The final presentations show a variety of responses to future workspaces, and explore the possible changes in our future work patterns.  You can see examples of the work produced below, with the final design ideas available to view online here: https://thisisunitx.com/THE-FUTURE-OF-WORK-MENU#

Thank you to Manchester Metropolitan University and Bruntwood for including us in this exciting project, and enabling us to offer insights into living with a visual impairment and the impact of the work environment.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Visual Impairment Awareness Training, please contact us on 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk

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