In the ever-shifting realm of office trends, design choices based in health and wellness are becoming mainstays. With studies and statistics indicating that wellness initiatives increase productivity and lower company insurance premiums, it’s easy to see why employee health is driving design. Unfortunately, traditional office environments may work against the health of employees by encouraging long periods of sitting and inactivity. Prolonged sitting has repeatedly been linked to increased risk of early mortality and reduced brain health. Fortunately, recent studies state that regular increments of light physical activity can mitigate much of the damaging effects of sitting. With that in mind, here are 6 design elements that promote exercise.
Incorporate and Accentuate Stairs
Old designs relegated stairs mainly to corridors. Stairwells were purely utilitarian, and often harder to access than elevators. An active design model places stairs in open spaces, often as a link between different parts of the office. Strategically placed near community areas like breakrooms and entryways, an open staircase can be both functional and attractive. If you make it easy and comfortable for employees to take the stairs, they’re more likely to do so.
Utilize Communal Printer Bays and Centralized Break Areas
Two of the primary reasons people leave their desks during the workday are to retrieve documents from the printer and to get coffee or a snack. Removing personal printers and establishing a communal printer bay encourages employees to walk, even if it’s just down the hall. The same goes for breakrooms. A centralized, modern breakroom not only gives employees a place to relax and meet, but it can also promote more movement than an office space with coffee and vending machines in every hallway.
Offer Support for Active Transportation
To go the extra mile, design your space with utilities that encourages employees to bike, jog, or walk to work. This may come in the form of a secure and easily accessible area for bike storage alongside a changing room with showers. These simple additions give employees the opportunity to exercise before and after work.
Utilize Outdoor Space
Outdoor spaces can be a big motivator for staying active during breaks in the workday. An outdoor plaza, a rooftop garden, or established access to nearby trails all give employees a chance to step outside and take a walk. This is good for health, and good for morale, as a bit of sunshine and fresh air can beat stress and improve memory.
Integrate Multi-Faceted Workspaces
When working, employees are often seated at a single desk, carrying out all of their tasks in that position. Offering sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, or bicycle desks allow for physical activity to help break up sedentary time.
You can go a step further by outfitting an individual’s workspace with various workstations. This is particularly useful for employees who juggle different types of tasks. One design model may utilize a small, standard desk for work on a desktop computer, an adjacent standing desk for telephone calls and physical document work, and a whiteboard on a nearby wall for planning and reminders. The use of each workstation can vary depending on the nature of the job. This multi-faceted approach creates an association between specific work tasks and each workstation. Once the pattern has been established, an individual will automatically move between each station as their daily tasks unfold. This is a subtle but effective way to promote constant motion.
Provide Access to Exercise Equipment
A small gym combined with showers and a changing area allows employees to exercise when they’re not working, which is an important part of maintaining their health in the office. If you have the space, make this area easy to access. If you don’t have the space, offering discounts or memberships to local fitness centers may prove beneficial. For those in the Commerce City area, the Bison Ridge Recreation Center is a brand new, state of the art facility with over 108,000 square feet of space for aquatics, weight-training, dance, gymnastics, basketball, and more. Environments is proud to be a partner of this outstanding community center, as we have provided furniture and textiles to outfit the facility in style and substance.
Design that promotes physical health has become a vital part of modern workspaces. The health of your employees translates into the health of your company. So, if you’re looking to design your office to encourage wellness, contact us at Environments. We have a wide variety of active design furniture, and the knowledge to incorporate it into your workspace, however small or large.