Essentials For A Healthy And Productive Workplace
If you owned a Ferrari, would you fill it with gas that will run it on 50% efficiency? Workplace design and operations directly affects productivity and overall health of employees. Operational cost breakdowns for typical businesses are 1% for energy, 9% for rent and 90% for salaries and benefits. If your workplace can be designed and operated to increase staff productivity and health, cost savings would be substantial. Employees are the Ferraris of each company and they need care and attention which smart workplace design can provide so that they can run with speed and precision.
Here are Liquid Interiors’ design essentials to boost Health and Productivity in the workplace based on a summary of LEED ID+C, the WELL Building Standard, the World Green Building Council and our professional experience with examples of how we achieved this in our office.
Let your clients and staff know what your company vision with the design experience. From the entrance design, branding wall, reception design, conference room and vision wall. Your company’s values, products and goals should be clear and comprehensive without explanation.
Create the right environment for staff to switch from deep concentration and taking breaks. The human brain in more productive when it is allowed to rest at intervals. Break spaces can include flexible space for switching off as well as having fun.
Easily accessible quiet spaces must be available for staff to use for phone calls and private conversations. In our office we created a flexible conference area that can be made private by closing an internal window. In the main working area use materials that can absorb sound such as carpet, curtains or acoustic ceilings. Plants can also help to diffuse sound.
Productivity is optimal when there is background music or white noise is at 70 db. A background music/white noise program is necessary to higher productivity. When selecting music make sure that you get regular staff feedback as personal taste may also link to distractions.
3- Daylighting & Lighting
All employees that have regular desk work have a higher priority for access to daylight. Studies show that that 15% more time is spent doing heavy concentration tasks in windowed spaces than non windowed spaces. When illuminating your office keep the overall Lux levels at 300 and add task lamps at each desk. It is ideal to have 500 Lux lighting level at the work surface. A mix of up lights and down lights is ideal and the general lighting should be daylight to slightly warm white. For an energy booster add a cool white light setting that can be used to counteract feeling sluggish.
4- Thermal comfort
Studies show that productivity levels are at its highest between 21-23 Degrees Celsius. When temperatures are too hot it causes drowsiness and when it’s too cold it causes a distraction. Temperature changes according to many factors such as being close to large windows. To keep employees happy make sure that zones to control temperature are in place keeping in mind which areas may fluctuate the most. Also, have the real time temperature available at all times with a thermometer or monitor.
5- Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is the combined measurement of temperature, humidity, Co2, TVOCs and PM2.5. Temperature and humidity are controlled by air conditioning and heating. CO2 must be controlled by adding a separate fresh air duct or by opening windows. TVOCs (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) can be controlled by specifying Low VOC paints, thinners, adhesives, materials and formaldehyde free press woods in built in furniture. Certified green cleaning products can also help to control indoor air pollutants. Lastly, add an air purifier to further reduce TVOC’s if necessary as well as reduce dust, allergens, viruses and penetrating outdoor air pollution. (PM2.5) Air Quality monitors allow for staff to understand what changes need to be made according to real time conditions.
6- Interior Layout & Active Design
People that sit for 11 hours a day have shorter life spans than those who sit for 4 hours a day or less. Sitting for long periods of time contributes to higher risks of colon cancer, muscle and bone disorders. Providing standing workstations, stand up meeting tables and enhancing staircase design gives opportunities for doing work during the day while moving around.
7- Views & Biophilia
For optimal views to the outside remove high partitions from each workstation so that views and a connection to the outdoors can be seen from seated height.
Plants are proven to reduce stress levels, improve alertness and reduce fatigue and are mainly some of the least expensive upgrades that can be done to an office.
8- Look & Feel
The look and feel of the office should not only be consistent with the company brand and should also be tailored to relate to the majority age generation of the staff as each generation has different preferences. Adding artwork promotes creativity, emotion and innovation.
What you eat and drink feeds your mind as well as your body. 80% of office workers are dehydrated and dehydration is the #1 cause for fatigue and headaches. Place water machines in a visible and accessible place to encourage drinking water throughout the day. The Quality of the water can be improved by using mineralized bottled water or filtered tap water.
Healthy eating can be encouraged by creating a designated decorative area devoted to the display of fruit, vegetables and other healthy snacks. Have a healthy food purchasing plan. An edible indoor garden offers the most nutritious and fresh food to employees and enjoying a company harvest can be a fun and engaging activity too.
Mindful eating reminders can help with healthy food decision making as well as improve staff morale.
10- Waste Management
Reducing waste is not only a way to make your company run more efficiently it also helps to make your planet healthy too.
Demolition waste – when moving or renovating make a list of what can be sold, donated, reused and recycled. Doors, loose furniture, and built in furniture can all be moved and reinstalled if taken down with care.
Reduce Energy – Use an energy monitor to track the main sources of your energy such as heating and cooling, equipment and lighting. Monitor this month per month and make benchmarks and aim to reduce them monthly.
Reducing waste – When office recycling is done in a way that is a feature then it can change the perception of waste to be a resource. In our office we placed decorative baskets at our entrance to hold our recycling that gets picked up only once every two weeks. Staff can see when we get close to our limits and it makes staff more mindful about using new paper, buying products with lots of packaging and disposables. Also, the service that picks up our recycling employs the disadvantaged in our community which allows us to play a small part in giving back as well.
In conclusion companies that include healthy workplace design can benefit by attracting better talent, increased focus, have less sick days, and a generally happier atmosphere. The long term health benefits that are gained by having better eating and active working habits are invaluable.
For more information feel free to contact Liquid Interiors, your healthy and eco conscious interior design consultants.