How does A Healthy Working Environment Change Office Culture
Work can have a huge impact on our physical and mental health. The following methods allow us to put people first and design the next office space.
What is the impact of work on health?
The daily working environment has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Many companies choose to redesign their office space to protect the health of their employees to the utmost extent because they realize that the work environment will have a huge impact on their employees. A good environment can not only improve mood and productivity, but also promote teamwork and enhance employees’ sense of belonging.
These benefits have also allowed more and more companies around the world to start creating new office spaces. Perhaps some offices themselves are superior to others (for example, with many windows), but we can make full use of the existing layout based on several healthy design indicators.
To gain a deeper understanding of how architects can improve the health of space users, you may wish to take a look at what are the determinants of an excellent office environment and what elements can create ideal spaces for employees and allow them to use their creativity and vitality, so that we can Figure out how creative solutions can transform the workplace and completely change the office culture.
How to create a pleasant office space
What is a “healthy office space”? First of all, we need to pay attention to the following basic elements:
At the stage of construction and selection of furniture, pay attention to the physical properties of materials to ensure clean air and durable structure
Plenty of natural light
Control the indoor sound field and echo, taking into account the sound privacy design
In addition to materials, lighting, and sound, there are many intangible designs that are essential to people’s physical and mental health, including but not limited to space versatility, layout, effective details, and design ingenuity.
As far as experience is concerned, the layout of the space is the easiest to understand, but to design a truly healthy office space, it not only involves the issue of spatial order. The perfect office space starts from the entrance, it should make people feel as if they have come to a new world. It is a friendly and inclusive space, and ideally, it should be lighted with gentleness to avoid direct glare. In the space, natural materials should be used as much as possible, and clear welcome signs should be set up to provide guidance for visitors so that they can be received by the front desk or colleagues.
After entering the internal space from the front desk, there should first be a social and vibrant area, such as a coffee shop or public space. The purpose of this layout is to stimulate the enthusiasm of employees, so natural aromas such as coffee and fresh fruits and leisure interaction areas will play a key role.
Ideally, this area should be able to transition to a variety of micro-environments, such as a place for meeting and greeting, a place for storing clothes, an area suitable for reading or in-depth work, or a space that can be used for cooperative office or meeting.
Create a multifunctional space in an open office
The microenvironment can be easily realized by designing a separate room, but this will make the entire office a fixed layout. The purpose of many designs is to divide areas through furniture, natural-friendly elements, and sliding walls to create a multifunctional space in a large office. With these multifunctional partition tools, the office environment can be used to meet the different needs of employees throughout the day, and can also be transformed from an area for in-depth work to an area for fitness and team building.
For example, a large space usually used for meetings or presentations can be easily transformed into a place for employees to do yoga in the afternoon, practice Tai Chi, meditate in the morning, or hold art classes at noon. Similarly, cafes can be used for teams to learn how to cook and make coffee, and can also provide space for working lunches and seminars.
Bring plants and natural light into the room
There is a hypothesis in pro-life research that humans will continue to seek connections with nature and other organisms, and these connections can improve our physical and mental health. Unsurprisingly, a large number of studies have shown that natural light is the most critical factor in the design of office space, and the stress level of employees with plants around the office will be reduced by 30% to 60%.
Light will have a direct impact on our mental health, and doctors even recommend that we have at least 4 hours of sunshine per day (this requirement is also part of the WELL certification standard). To a certain extent, this is because light causes people to secrete hormones such as serotonin, so that we can maintain a stable state of mind. Serotonin deficiency is often thought to be the cause of seasonal depression.
For architects, it is very important to maximize the use of natural light and use light to enhance the spatial experience. One way to enhance daylighting is to use windowed areas as public spaces for employees to enter throughout the day. If you have to open up a closed office in the surrounding area, you can use transparent and translucent glass walls to ensure that other areas can also get light.
In addition to natural light, artificial lighting can also be used to define a space. Some modern office places use lighting systems to change the indoor color temperature according to the sunlight conditions within a day. This helps employees adjust their work and rest rhythms, minimize fatigue during daytime work, and improve sleep quality at the same time. When using light, you can further reduce staff stress through anti-glare devices. And if used together with pro-natural elements, reflected light can subtly reduce stress through human parasympathetic nerves.
The pro-nature element combines natural materials, patterns and plants, and is an important element to improve the mental health of employees. If the space for placing potted plants in the office is limited, another solution is to use “living walls” or “vertical gardens”. This type of installation is characterized by planting various plants on vertical walls or other structures. A pulley can be installed at the bottom of the vertical green wall so that it can move freely around the office.
Cultivate work community awareness through park design
The sense of belonging at work and the friendship between colleagues all contribute to the happiness of employees. Therefore, the office space must not only allow employees to collaborate with each other, but also that they must not hinder other people’s work when they have friendly conversations. This can meet people’s needs for social interaction, and social interaction can in turn make people produce a great sense of happiness and stimulate creativity.
Just like the large technology companies in Silicon Valley, large companies with enough space can apply the above principles by creating multi-level or multi-building work parks. Under the condition of ensuring safety, the park can even be opened to the majority of communities or urban residents. When necessary, relatives of employees can come here for lunch or drop by during working hours.
In a campus-style office area under construction, an internal courtyard is not only open to employees in the park, but also to all the public. In this example, the entire ground floor facility of the park is designed as an active facade to enhance the vitality and transparency of the street. At the same time, there are also restaurants and other facilities in the park, which are open to community employees and the public.
People-oriented design of office space
Only when a safe and evolving community values the overall situation of employees, and can cultivate individuality and stimulate creativity, can employees perform to their best level.
All in all, we must build every workplace based on people. Office space should take care of people’s physical and mental health and social needs, stimulate their creativity, and directly improve corporate performance and earnings. If it is not even worth the investment, what is it worth?