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Health, Happiness and Office Design

By Nathan K. Smith
Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Your office could be majorly affecting the productivity of your employees. Consider these factors when renting a new work space.

Leasing office space will be one of your top 3 business expenses, so it’s important to make the most of your investment by designing it in a way that will improve your employees’ productivity. Though cost is one of the most important variables, there are a lot of other things to consider when picking a spot to lay your desks.

Before you rush the process of finding and leasing space, you should take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of each office building and its available space. 

A few factors to consider are:  

  • The range of building classes (A, B, or C) available 
  • Building amenities
  • Technological capabilities
  • All the possible office locations 
  • Energy efficiency levels (including those prime LEED certified ones)

The list could go on, but we can guarantee that paramount to the success of your business will not just be its class, location or energy efficiency of your new office. What will matter most will be your employees’ health!

A report by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) confirms that employee health is directly linked to employee productivity and as you well know employee productivity directly relates to your bottom line.  So it is in your best interests to design your office space to improve your employees’ health.

Related Article: Feng Shui & Fuzzy Feelings: Creating Company Culture Through Office Design

How Can an Office Design Improve Employee Health?

More and more, business decision makers have determined that the future of office space design will help promote the exchange of ideas and focus on employee engagement.  They forecast productive office designs of the future will encourage the physical and mental health of employees to achieve productivity through incubation, cross-pollination, symbiosis and co-working. They coin this approach the "New Sustainability".

In addition to the WGBC report, a publication by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) confirmed the impact of physical workplace design on business productivity.

Now, the question is understanding the physical factors affecting office space design that can directly improve your employees’ physical and mental health. 

4 Elements of Productive Office Design

Learning from ASID and others, the 4 major elements of office design that will directly affect your business productivity are comfort, inclusive design, layout and flexibility.

office layout that maximizes for comfort

Comfort: Designing your office space and systems to improve employee comfort will mean controlling noise, temperature, air quality and ventilation levels. It will mean balancing artificial light levels with natural daylight, providing internal and external views of nature or internal planting and controlling the effects of solar glare and gain. It will also mean incorporating active design elements and considering ergonomic furniture and providing exercise facilities (be it landscaped external space, bicycle storage, a gym, a yoga room or even a swimming pool).

Inclusive Design: The inclusive design of your office will be non-discriminatory.  It will consider the possible ages of your employees, their genders and specific needs as well as taking on board access requirements for the ambulant and non-ambulant disabled and the visually impaired.

Office layout

Interior Layout: Designing the interior layout of your office for adequate privacy will mean getting the balance right between open plan and cubicle layout, considering workstation density and configuration and providing breakout space and social space.

Flexibility: Designing your office for flexibility will mean allowing for the expansion and contraction of your business and providing for cultural and organizational flexibility (potentially incorporating Feng Shui principles or modular furniture and partitioning systems).

Related Article: Reinstating Boundaries: The Agile Workplace

Employee Health vs. Energy Efficiency

Despite evidence of positive links between "healthy" offices with high levels of user comfort that have led to improvements in productivity, some business leaders are neglecting these options and compromising on employee health in order to achieve higher energy efficiency. Instead of compromising on one or the other, both should be major factors when considering the building or offices you end up leasing. 

Bear all of this in mind, and you should be well on the way to a having healthy employees and a productive business.

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