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Five Vital Signs For A Healthy Workspace


One way to elevate the practice of interior design and architecture is to create offices that are not only beautiful and functional, but are also places where human beings can thrive. Here are five “vital signs” to consider:

AIR QUALITY: Inhale, Exhale
Almost 70% of U.S. workers work in indoor office settings.
The energy crisis in the 70s saw a move towards tighter buildings to save on energy costs, but this also brought higher concentrations of indoor pollutants. As designers, we often focus on what we can visualize, but more attention can be paid to the things we can’t see, so that systems that enable good indoor air quality can perform as well as the rest of the space.

SOUND QUALITY: Buzz and Shh!
Once distracted, it is estimated that it takes as long as 15 minutes to regain concentration on a task.
We’ve all enjoyed the healthy buzz of collaborative office spaces, but it’s important to find ways to reduce the inevitable distractions that arise as a result. Explore plans that isolate noisier common work zones from quieter areas for focused work. Workers can partition their days and spend designated blocks of time in focused tasks versus collaborative ones.

MOVEMENT: On Your Feet
In America, a decline in work-related physical activity since the 60s closely matches an increase in average weight.
Most of us can’t change the fact that our jobs don’t involve intense physical activity, but we can impact the amount of time spent in chairs. More and more offices are incorporating the ability to work while standing, or to work remotely, away from desks. Some companies consolidate resources like printing and refreshments to encourage movement throughout the day.

LIGHT: Sunshine Therapy
Natural light can affect bodily functions such as temperature, breathing, blood pressure, digestion and mood.
It’s not just your imagination! Bright spaces with natural daylight can make you feel better because your body is responding more naturally to its environment. Over the years, designers have responded to these findings by incorporating more glass in interior construction, lowering furniture panel heights and pulling offices and conference rooms off of the exterior wall.

CHOICE: Different Strokes…
Employees are happier when given a choice about where, when, and how to get things done.
This isn’t just true of Millenials – Baby Boomers also report higher workplace satisfaction when given meaningful options in their work environments. We’re just beginning to see the link between happiness and health, and there is growing evidence that happy people have lower heart rates and stress levels, and live longer, too!

| By Michael Fazio

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“A mega-trend is sharing instead of ownership of workspaces. We can either all ride in coach or we can share a private jet.”

Chris Blackadder
Principal, Woods Bagot