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Your office should work for you.
The impact of Covid-19 has significantly changed the way we work as millions of people across the globe have been forced to work from home. In fact, so much so, that the workplace as we know it may never be the same again.
Although this may seem quite daunting, Covid-19 has accelerated the need and demand for healthy environments as the principles of health-based design have been placed at the forefront of conversation on a global scale.
Mobility is pervasive, it's everywhere and the pandemic has forced us to embrace it. It can happen at any time in any place, and, if you allow and enable this you will ensure that your employees can be as productive outside the office as they are inside the office. This will altogether enhance their work-life balance.
A flexible, healthy environment is what the majority of millennial's and employees are looking for in the workplace. People no longer want to feel bound to a desk by their keyboard. As an employer, one can break this stigma and enable people to become mobile (make your technology smarter and allow the freedom to be productive at anywhere) by means of the facilities and workplaces. This is where health-based planning and healthy buildings come into play. It's all about balance.
Environments that are mostly open environments but provide ample on-demand private space have both the highest effectiveness and highest experience scores
- Gensler US Workplace Survey 2019
What is a Health Based workplace?
Health Based Working (also known as Activity Based Working) is a new way of working which is founded on the premise of a variety of work settings shared by all employees. Employers are beginning to understand that productivity is not quantified by the amount of time spent at one's desk and that the open plan office comes with a host of privacy and acoustic problems. Current day workplace standards focus on combining a variety of work zones in order to maximize employee activity and essentially attract employees to the work place in order to ensure that collaboration and cross pollination can take place.
According the Gensler's 2019 workplace report, only a fraction of people prefer working in a totally open or totally private environment; over two thirds (77%) consider environments that fall between these extremes to be ideal.
Throughout the course of the day, an employee engages in a myriad of activities that requires different types of work settings. The broader workspace should provide employees with a variety of predetermined activity areas that allow them to conduct specific tasks including- collaborating, concentrating, communicating and chilling out.
Emphasis is placed on creating a flexible and productive environment to allow staff the freedom to choose how, when and where they want to work. This creates a less structured work environment which allows people to be more creative, collaborative and above all healthier.
This type of space focuses on individual and heads down task work. This includes focus rooms, team rooms, touch down points, work-pods and offices. Ideally a variety of sit-stand configurations is preferred providing options for user preference.
A meeting space that encourages group interplay and discussion through strategic layout and design. Enclosed or semi-enclosed rooms with at least 3 seats per room and at least one visual interface for communication ideas and work. Collaboration spaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes Including meeting rooms, meeting pods, huddle, scrum and innovation rooms.
Provides an inspiring setting for staff to break away for daily tasks. Chill zones provide staff with the opportunity to rub shoulders with people they wouldn't necessarily in the workspace environment whilst being a home away from home. Work cafes, pantries and pause areas are ideally located close to the entrance on a floor place with access to natural light and views. Allow for different posture settings, banquette seats, café type seating, kitchen counter and kitchen table, recycling bins, a separate enclosed kitchenette.
Working towards wellness
The Well Building movement is an extension of the sustainability or green building movement that has dominated the building industry for the last ten years. Whilst the green building movement addresses the environmental impact of a building by focusing mainly on the architectural fabric, it pays very little attention to design from a people perspective.
We spend 90% of our time indoors and there is a growing body of evidence which proves that our environment is the largest determinant of our overall health (IWBI, 2019: 4). This means that our health begins inside; inside our homes, at work and all of the places we frequent on a daily basis.
Over the last couple of months, everyone has experienced some form of health-related anxiety due to Covid-19. It is vital that employees feel safe and valued upon returning to work. This is why most of the high-density workplaces of today will need to change. Employers will need to drastically to cater for a workforce who is fast becoming more aware of what constitutes a healthy environment. If anything, the pandemic has accelerated the need and awareness for a healthy workplace and health or wellbeing will be a non-negotiable going forward as an expectation on both a regulatory and user level.
As experts within the industry, the spaces we design affect human health, behaviour and emotion. With that said, it ultimately remains all of our responsibility to create workplaces that protects, supports and enhances the wellbeing of our people.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity
- World Health Organisation
Health and Wellness are not solely determined by physical factors alone. In fact, mental and physical health are linked; a change in the one can negatively impact the other. Wellbeing happens where there is an intersection between our physical, cognitive and emotional health, and safety is fundamental to all three (Steelcase; 2020:5). Organisations will need to address all three of the following tiers in order to ensure their employees work well.
The top benefits of healthy buildings
73% Positive impact on building lease rate
62% Positive impact on building value
79% Positive impact on occupant satisfaction
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