Spaces that promote wellness
THE TREND: good habits by design
As more employers tune into the physical and mental health needs of their employees, they realize that workplace wellness has many facets—autonomy, movement, access to nature and daylight, among others. Designers are taking up the charge by creating employee-focused spaces.
The desire and value for personal autonomy are seen now more than ever. New hires are asking for more flexibility in the workplace and want the ability to choose where to work, how to communicate, and even the ability to personalize their workspaces for optimal comfort. Designers are responding with furniture solutions and modular wall systems to allow for curated flexibility. Designing spaces that offer choice and personalization allows employees to feel safe, supported, and valued. We expect that this flexibility in design will become even more important as cell and gene companies expand, merge, and refresh their spaces.
Paradoxically, limiting choices to promote good behaviors is another important consideration when designing for workplace wellness. Designers can take this even further by strategically locating certain amenities (eg. espresso machine or flavored sparkling water) on a lower floor, thus nudging employees to purposefully move about. This thoughtfulness in design can encourage wellness and invite experiences for community and connection.
An effective way to accomplish this is through the addition of communicating stairs, designed to move employees floor to floor and create a central hub for connection. Such staircases go beyond function—they are beautiful sculptural objects that people gravitate towards.
One example is stadium-style stairs, which can double as seating and even serve as the centerpiece of all-hands-on-deck company meetings. At other times, you might see some employees around the stairs using their laptops, taking a coffee break, or presenting to a small team. Communicating stairs and amenity spaces around them draws people in and encourages movement.
As companies continue to listen to employee needs, end-users will doubtlessly drive forward wellness trends within interior design. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned another spotlight on employee wellness, forcing us to redefine what it looks like to design a healthy workplace.