All those extra hours at your desk might be great for your career, but they don’t do much for your health. Employee health in the workplace is a growing concern. For many years, traditional office design has usually meant lots of convenience and minimal movement. Everything you need to do your job is either at your fingertips or very close. That thinking now appears to be changing.
Architects and designers are now working to create workplaces that are not only productive, but healthy as well. “Active Design” – the concept of creating work space that encourages a healthy lifestyle, is gaining traction.
Many companies are now taking on healthy initiatives and green measures. Office furniture company Haworth rebuilt its global headquarters in Holland, Michigan, under the principles of active design. Haworth wanted to open spaces that encourage movement and interaction. Before the redesign, there was 90% individual space. The new building now has 55% individual and 45% share.
So can you get employees moving and exercising through design? According to Rick Bell, executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, “Design and obesity are interrelated.”
In the 19th and 20th century, architecture played a major role in defeating infectious diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis by designing better buildings, streets, clean-water systems and parks.
Office design and employee health are connected. Organizations are now challenging designers to create office environments that get workers moving. Features of active office design include stairs into the actual workspace, placing equipment like printers and coffee machines in areas that encourage employees to walk more and communicate with colleagues and building outside work areas so employees can use mobile devices while they move.
Active office design might be just what the doctor ordered for your workplace.