6) Provide Variety with Breakout Spaces
A change of pace can help boost productivity, Zinder notes. But variety is about more than standing desks and perching areas at workstations.
“A standing desk might be a component in a larger plan, but there’s not one silver bullet to address the notion of variety,” Zinder adds. “Maybe you do have standing desks and perching areas, but you also have a common copy room or breakout lounges in other spaces in the building. You can sit or stand at your desk, sit at the lounge area down the hall, go downstairs for a cup of coffee or take a break and work out in the gym. It helps bring some clarity to your mind.”
Creating breakout spaces also affords you the opportunity to turn some of your underused or unattractive spaces into real assets. One recent project Duda worked on involved creating a quiet reflection space for patients and families in the Duke Cancer Center. The 30- by 30-foot space was behind an elevator bank and had no access to natural light, posing a challenge for the design team.
“You couldn’t ask for a more depressing space to work with,” Duda says. “The space had to be transformative, but at the same time it had no daylight. We used lighting in such a way that it simulated sunrise to sunset with the color of light in the room. Human beings rely on those cues to tell us what time of day it is or what the weather is and it’s an important factor in people’s mental state. It became a room for people to go and find respite and reflection, and doctors and nurses use the space as much as patients do.”
The most important element to creating a building that supports occupant health is paying attention to people’s needs, Zinder emphasizes. Lead the way, but let occupants advise you on the path to take.
“You have to be a good listener in this process,” says Zinder. “Hear what employees are looking for and what tenants’ goals are and assign value to that. You can’t understand the potential return on investment unless you understand the value for the tenants and employees in the building.”
Janelle Penny firstname.lastname@example.org is senior editor of BUILDINGS.