Designing for Wellness

I have been teased about my workplace health habits. A lot.

I have gone through three fitness trackers(1&2 now defunct, & 3), two ergonomic kneeling chairs (1 & 2), one standing desk of my own making, and am now on an active seating stool called a Swopper. I also take advantage of my employer’s health and wellness program. It would be an understatement to say that the topic of health and wellness in the workplace matters to me, but I’m not the only one who cares about this stuff.

The CDC recommends implementation of health and wellness programs at the workplace to combat the negative impact of our sedentary office lifestyle. Studies have found that the health of agents and staff improve the business activity of the office in surprising ways.

The design of buildings and offices shape our workplace habits. Provision of active spaces, open pedestrian corridors, fitness-promoting policies and programs, and bright and welcoming gyms can have a big impact on employees’ health and habits. Incorporation of more subtle healthy design such as proper lighting, hydration stations, and use of color design encourage wellness. Humans want a view, natural light, and a certain amount of privacy to feel connected to the natural environment – these are the quintessential corner office perks that satisfy our biophilia.

Office building designers have started to embrace the idea of workplace wellness by outfitting spaces with standing desks, bike racks, and workout spaces to discourage sedentary habits; clean indoor air to reduce molds and allergens; inclusion of natural indoor plant life to help filter air and provide a connection to nature; incorporating green rooftops, large windows, and rainwater collection systems to provide access to sunlight and nature; and providing access to healthy food options.

Source L&L Holding CompanyFosterPartners Source: L&L Holding Company/Foster + Partners

Delos is capitalizing on this trend by creating the WELL Building Standard®, purported to be the world’s first building standard focused entirely on human health and wellness. Styled after the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, it is intended to provide guidelines for building design that fosters employee happiness, health, and productivity. CBRE adopted changes based on this standard a few years ago, including ergonomic furniture, a juice station, and non-porous countertops to prevent bacteria growth.

It will be interesting to see the spread of wellness office buildings as they are newly designed and as existing buildings are retrofitted. In the meantime, what experiences have you had with wellness design initiatives in your office?

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