While energy efficiency is an essential factor for architects and developers when designing buildings, the physical well-being of occupants is equally important. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on creating workplaces that promote the health and wellness of employees.
Studies have shown that the office environment can have a profound impact on the health and well-being of the occupants in a building. Unhealthy conditions in the workplace such as poor ventilation and lighting can lead to illness and low productivity. While some companies have workplace wellness programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of their staff, there is also an alternative solution that businesses and property managers can apply.
Building Design and Office Layout
One great way to improve the health and wellness of occupants is to incorporate active design in both the interior and exterior of buildings. Active design is an urban planning and architecture principle that promotes physical activity. A research study by Sapio Research showed that workplaces that encourage physical activity can empower businesses to become profitable and productive. A well-designed office layout, therefore, can boost efficiency and improve wellness among employees.
Here are five active design strategies that promote the health and well-being of occupants.
- Open and Accessible Stairways
Strategically placed staircases in buildings can encourage staff to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Climbing stairs burns calories and raise good cholesterol levels. According to the Center for Active Design in the US, open and easily accessible staircases entice people to use them, especially when climbing four floors or less.
Adjacent floors can also be fitted with interconnecting grand staircases to promote movement. Fire stairs in buildings can be maximized for use by eliminating door locks. Well-designed stairways must also be well-lit and safe.
- Adjustable Workstations (AWS)
Adjustable workstations (AWS) or sit-stand desks can help reduce prolonged sitting, which can cause back discomfort and weight gain. Fitting an office with desks that can be switched between sitting to standing modes allows for short breaks of physical activity. Providing a variety of workspace options such as nooks and community hubs where employees can choose their work location each day according to their preferred working style can also contribute to workplace satisfaction.
- Clustered Amenities and Equipment
Clustering printers and water coolers encourages mobility among occupants. This can be advantageous to people who are tied to their desks for several hours a day. Setting up office equipment and amenities in one place gives staff the chance to move around. In coworking spaces, this can even spark collaboration.
- Activity Spaces
Provision of additional facilities such as exercise rooms, multipurpose recreational spaces, a swimming pool, shower rooms, lockers, and bicycle storage rooms can also raise activity levels. Workers can reduce work stress by engaging in recreational activities made available within the building.
- Creative Streetscapes
Building surroundings can also be designed with wellness in mind. Property managers can create pathways and trails that encourage walking, cycling and running. Well-designed streetscapes include open views to natural landscapes, shaded areas, benches, drinking fountains, and easy access to public transportation.
Creating spaces with wellness in mind can benefit both companies and their employees. It can reduce sick days as well as motivate staff and increase their productivity. For businesses, it can lower health costs and boost their corporate image through wellness certifications from the world’s leading health and well-being rating systems such as Fitwel and WELL.
Active design isn’t the only way that real estate can transform employee well-being. Find out how placemaking can have a transformative impact in this guest post from Jun Sochi, Managing Director from C&W Services Singapore.