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How to Build Health and Wellness into the Private Office

Posted on Aug 24, 2016, by Michael Eckert

The open office trend is growing in popularity worldwide. However, huge numbers of workplaces still have private offices.

If you’ve got a private office, chances are you spend the majority of your head-down work time in isolation, without the social or collaborative benefits offered by an open office. This makes it even more important to design your office specifically to address common workplace health and wellness concerns (both physical and emotional).

So today I’m looking at 3 ways to build health and wellness into private office spaces.

Featured image: Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

1) Acoustics

Stress is one of the biggest health and wellness concerns in the workplace. And excessive levels of background noise can lead to increased stress levels among employees.

In a private office this can be extremely distracting - you will hear snippets of conversations all day long as people pass your office. While you can, to a large degree, control the noise levels within your office, you can’t control your colleagues’ activity outside of your private office.

Fortunately, with a few design changes to your office you can reduce the impact of external noise, to help lower your stress levels and increase your productivity:

  • Open cell cushion-backed carpet absorbs 50% more sound than hard-backed carpet, which in turn absorbs three times more noise than hard surface flooring.
  • Acoustic-insulating wall and ceiling tiles can help to reduce overall office noise levels, by absorbing more sound compared with standard wall and ceiling tiles.
  • Sound masking uses ambient noise, like white noise or the sound of rainfall, to cover up other, more distracting noise like overheard conversations.

2) Encourage movement

Working in a private office means you’ll spend less time moving around to speak to colleagues compared with an open office environment: colleagues will probably come to you for meetings.

The average office worker spends more than 5 hours a day sitting at their desk, but chances are, in your case that’ll be much more. A sedentary lifestyle like this comes with health risks, from obesity to an increased risk of heart disease.

Therefore, it’s vital that you design your private office to encourage movement. One increasingly popular workplace trend is sit-to-stand working. In this case, it’s not about swapping time spent sitting down for time spent standing up, but rather encouraging regular transition between the two postures - because it’s the extra movement that’s good for you.

Learn more about how office design can help increase your activity levels.

3) Daylighting

Exposure to natural light has a huge impact on health and wellness: sunlight helps to regulate the body’s sleep patterns and circadian rhythm. In fact, people with windows in their workplace receive 173% more beneficial white light during work hours, and slept an average of 46 minutes more, each and every night, compared with those with no natural light in their workspace.

In order to maximize the amount of natural light in your private office - and ensure your office doesn’t block all the light from the rest of the building - it’s becoming increasingly common to build offices with one glass wall, or to use translucent glass to separate the space. Both of these options allow natural light to travel through the building, but offer differing levels of visual privacy.

Other common practices include installing skylights, to get natural light further into the office building, which will be ideal for private offices that are located in the center of an office space rather than around the outside.

The A-Z of Health & Wellness in Interior Design

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert