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Designing for Workspace Wellness

The subject of this week’s Future of Work article is designing for physical and psychological wellness in the workplace, a topic we feel merits new consideration in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. In addressing this critical subject, our spotlight returns to a focus on the long-term, but the issue is one that needs to be considered immediately as workers start returning to the office.

While there has been a growing trend to factor employees’ physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing into company policy as well as ofce design, employers and leaders are realizing now more than ever that people will have a heightened sense of anxiety that needs to be addressed when they return to the ofce. As tightening talent pools enable people to have more choices about where they want to work, we feel it is incumbent on business leaders to create environments that both invite and retain workers, particularly millennials who are 50% more likely than individuals from other generations to leave their jobs after two years.

The office should be a place of focus, collaboration, learning, socialization and rejuvenation. In this article, we turn our attention to how we design spaces that foster all-over safety and well-being while emphasizing empowerment and creativity. We believe the future of work will be the creation of environments that inspire and reenergize people throughout the workday.

  • Date August 2020
  • Written by Author Name
  • Topic Design
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Pophouse | Detroit Interior Design Firm
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Getting People Back to the Office

After weeks and months of stay-at-home mandates and amid fears of a new wave of infections, getting employees to return to the office is certainly a daunting task. A recent article in DMagazine encourages employers to get their employees to think beyond the first day back in their post-pandemic ofce, stressing positive images such as reconnecting with co-workers they haven’t seen for a long time. Office redesign will play an important role. “Shared spaces should integrate fresh air, biophilic elements, and sunlight — proven anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial characteristics that support physical and psychological health.” The article continues, “Integrating people, processes, and places is the future of effective workplace strategy, and this will be our new normal... Executed well, returning to the workplace can have a positive impact on your colleagues’ psyche and well-being.”

According to Forbes, “When employees go back to the office, employers will be forced to re-think their approach to the workplace. Companies will need to consider enhanced cleaning techniques, more distancing and increased choices for employees across a campus (providing places for focus, collaboration, learning, socializing and respite). In addition, all the things employees loved about being home — comfortable places to relax between meetings or personalization for example — will create new demands on the office. Organizations will have a new appreciation for the importance of the office, the critical nature of face-to-face interactions and the ways their workplaces must support employees.”

Integrating people, processes, and places is the future of the effective workplace strategy, and this will be our new normal.
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Emotional, Cognitive, and Physical Wellbeing

In the past, the concept of “wellbeing” in the office tended to focus on ergonomics. As the American workforce shifted from an agrarian lifestyle to sedentary employment, the prevalence of health issues related to sitting long hours began to rise. Large amounts of sedentary time have been linked to a higher risk of chronic disease, including obesity, diabetes and heart problems, as well as increased incidents of injury and discomfort. Fortunately, many modern offices have already begun to factor in the human need for movement in their designs, and increasingly are offering amenities such as gym memberships, healthy-eating challenges, yoga classes and gyms on site.

We advocate allowing employees to change their work environment throughout the day based on their activity. Giving employees the ability to work how, where and when they are most comfortable will be the future of work. We are seeing many companies move to flexible work environments and arrangements. Evidence supports when employees have control of their work style there are improvements in productivity and also improvements to health. We encourage employers to develop programs that prioritize health and wellbeing and believe that this will ultimately help with employee retention and company culture.

Evidence supports when employees have control of their work style there are improvements in productivity and also improvements to health.
Pophouse | Detroit Interior Design Firm
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Other suggestions for providing an atmosphere of safety and comfort include creating an inclusive environment where people can be themselves and feel like they belong. You can easily decide what’s best for your employees by surveying them and creating programs based of the data received.


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