How to Achieve Employee Wellness with the Best Office Design
People spend a third of their waking hours holed up in the office. It amounts to 90,000 hours in a lifetime for an average person. That is a lot of sitting, standing, or walking, depending on the nature of their job.
It is common to imagine that somewhere along the way, their lower backs would start to ache, or their feet would begin to hurt. In fact, a total of $60 billion is being spent annually due to workplace injuries or illnesses. This is twice the budget the government allocates for national defence. In terms of lost earning opportunity, an average of 5.8 weeks of work is missed due to office-related musculoskeletal injuries.
With all the money being spent and earnings lost due to work-related injuries, employees must be provided with a comfortable and healthy environment, something they can enjoy with the best office design for their workspace.
Qualities of a good working environment
According to the WELL Building Standard, seven factors affect employee health at work. These are indoor air quality, sufficient lighting, fitness, workplace comfort, access to water and nourishment, and mental wellness.
- Indoor air quality
Indoor air quality level can be improved by a few strategically positioned air purifiers and humidifiers. Adding some plants in the office would help further. Proper ventilation is also important and attainable by installing windows which will facilitate the natural flow of air. Implement a no-smoking policy, or set a designated smoking area where it cannot affect indoor air.
Maximise natural lighting by installing skylights or clearing windows of clutter or office furniture. Light fixtures can be optimised by carefully positioning recessed or ceiling-mounted bulbs for ambient lighting and installing task lighting where needed. Accent lighting can be used to highlight interesting features like artwork or even a trophy case in the office. It is a good way for employees to rest their eyes when needed and avoid eye strain and headaches.
- Water and nourishment
Providing clean drinking water and healthy foods in the office is a simple way to ensure your employees’ health. Install water coolers in high traffic areas where people do not have to go out of their way to get a drink. However, make sure that they do not cause obstructions. Install them against the wall and away from sunlight, which could change its properties after prolonged exposure.
- Comfort and mental wellness
The best office design is one with biophilic amenities. It takes advantage of scientifically proven psychological theories that people have an innate need to be closer to nature. It helps significantly to reduce stress in the workplace, lowering people’s heart rate, and blood pressure levels. Biophilic design can be as simple as putting plants inside the office, installing water elements such as a small fountain, or optimising natural light and ventilation.
Proper ergonomics can improve workplace comfort. For example, having sit-stand desks helps prevent lower back pains by preventing employees from sitting for too long at a time. Some offices even go as far as purchasing automated sit-stand technology.
- Workplace fitness
Workplace fitness immediately gives us images of gyms and fitness equipment. While it is true that having a gym at the office would be of great help, there are other ways to promote fitness at work. A separate place with a stationary bicycle or treadmill would be sufficient exercise in the office setting. If possible, incorporate a central staircase in your office design. Using the stairs is a good form of exercise. To encourage the use of stairs, you can put up artwork or put on music along the staircase.
Benefits of a good office design
The effect of workplace design on employee health is well-documented and proven by numerous extensive research. By getting the best office design, you can improve worker productivity and performance. It also gives you the chance to retain the most talented employees. Ensuring the well-being of your employees puts your company in the best position to succeed.