With the new year moving into full swing, the workplace design conversation has largely surrounded trends that will define 2017. As spaces that promote worker wellbeing particularly gain momentum, this month’s news aggregate explores how employee wellness will shape the modern office.
Connecting to Nature
Organizations embracing wellness are strategically integrating natural materials and colors that energize workers. Biophilic design elements, including wood accent walls, water features and moss walls – such as ours at NeoCon 2016 – bring nature to the office. Greenery also directly impacts employee wellness by improving air quality.
Along with outdoor-inspired interiors, All Work considers the uptick in outside office extensions in the addition of office rooftops and gardens. Inc recognizes Kickstarter, for example, for its natural courtyard and edible rooftop garden at the NYC headquarters.
Interior Design highlights natural color palettes as one of five trends to watch for in 2017, with calming shades of green, purple and taupe reflecting the growing influence of wellness at work. Furthermore, Your Story proposes that companies will increasingly incorporate green spaces after Pantone’s announcement of greenery as the color of 2017.
The benefits of nature at work are clear: Workplace Insight discusses a 15% increase in employee output three months after workplaces incorporated natural elements.
Encouraging Movement Through Design
Time Magazine notes increasing rates of yoga and meditation among today’s workers, with 1 in 7 practicing mindfulness. Employers adapting to these changing worker preferences are finding new ways to promote physical activity. All Work, for instance, discusses how many workplaces are designing spaces that encourage exercise and offering on-site gyms or yoga and meditation classes.
Work Design Magazine highlights one tech company that implemented meeting spaces with treadmills and designed social spaces along popular walking routes, while Entrepreneur suggests that an increase in standing desks and work environments designed for movement are results of a renewed focus on employee experience.
Workplace Insight considers how video conferencing spaces should also promote movement and a range of postures, emphasizing that progressive organizations should prioritize both tech integration and worker wellness. While movement-inspired designs may take longer to implement, simple alternatives such as a brief standing meeting can offer a healthy change of pace from the traditional conference room.
The People-Centric Mentality
Gensler explores the emphasis on a healthful employee experience this year, with more organizations introducing company fitness centers and sophisticated workplace lounges that encourage personal focus and rejuvenation. These developments indicate a new willingness among employers to make large investments in employee wellness in order to recruit and retain top talent.
Work Design Magazine further delves into the “wellness of tomorrow” in which workplace designers purposefully design a “healthy, people-centric office.” Additionally, Workplace Insight suggests that employers should have teams of ‘workplace guardians’ to create environments that foster staff wellbeing.
This focus on health and wellness has important ramifications. Workplace Insight notes that workspace elements like natural light, social spaces and private retreats can reduce the negative effects of winter on employee mental health.
CMI’s discussion with project designer Samantha House sums up this employee-focused mindset: “an efficient-workplace will be designed around the people using it.”