In an average work week, office workers spend five hours and forty-one minutes every day sitting at a desk. But research has shown that an extremely sedentary lifestyle is bad for our health – and that even if you’re hitting the gym after work every day, it’s still not enough to counteract the hours spent sitting down at the office.
So today I’m looking at 5 ways designers can create a more active workplace for their clients, in order to improve employee health and wellness, and lower healthcare costs incurred by an extremely sedentary lifestyle.
1) Position Facilities Away from Heads-Down Workspace
It might be convenient to have your kitchen and your bathrooms located pretty centrally within your office, but relocating them during an office refurbishment is a great way to build activity into people’s work day.
Rather than having key communal areas located super-conveniently, moving them to the other side of the office, away from your main heads-down workspace will incorporate more movement in your client’s workplace through necessity.
Your clients are also likely to reap the benefits of increased productivity: by stepping away from their desks for longer when going to get a coffee or use the bathroom, they get a slightly longer screen break and it gives them a chance to re-focus. Additionally, by spending more time walking through the office to get to communal areas, you will be facilitating an increase in cross-team communication and idea-sharing in your clients’ workplace.
2) Separate Collaborative Workspace from Heads-Down Workspace
Much like relocating your client’s facilities so they’re further away from their main workspace, this is another way you can design an office space that encourages movement throughout the day.
Positioning spaces for collaboration – whether that’s a breakout area or a cluster of closed meeting rooms – away from your client’s main workspace will necessitate movement between various spaces for different purposes during the day.
3) Provide Access to Daylight
Daylighting, and other biophilic design elements, can help improve energy levels in the workplace.
Sunlight has a huge impact on health and wellbeing, helping to regulate the body’s sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. People with windows in their workplace receive 173% more beneficial white light during work, and slept on average 46 minutes more every night.
This means that the level of natural light in the workplace has a direct impact on sleep quality, which will affect energy levels as well as productivity in the workplace.
4) Specify Adjustable-Height Workstations
Sit-to-stand working is becoming an increasingly popular workplace trend, as we become conscious of the health risks associated with an extremely sedentary lifestyle. A 2015 study by the University of Iowa found that employees with sit-to-stand desks burned up to 87 more calories a day than their seated colleagues, which adds up to 435 calories over a working week.
If your client wants to create a more active workplace with their office redesign, then specifying adjustable-height workstations, to facilitate sit-to-stand working, is a great way to do this.
5) Improve Acoustics
One often-overlooked design consideration is the impact that increased activity will have on office noise levels. If your client’s employees are moving around more in the office, there will be more sound generated by foot traffic.
There are many types of specialized surfaces designed to improve workplace acoustics, but for absorbing noise generated by foot traffic, your choice of flooring will have the biggest impact.
Carpet absorbs more sound than hard flooring, and open-cell cushion backed carpet tiles are the best-performing carpet option in terms of sound absorption, absorbing over 50% more noise than hard-backed products.