Because individual workspace has such a direct impact on employees, make sure you are providing the best localized environments for workers. Speaking with people within your organization will give you valuable feedback to make positive changes.
“Before a project, we do visioning, which is sitting down and interviewing employees to understand their likes or dislikes,” says David Chason, Partner at AEI U.S. Studio. “We always start by asking what do you like or not like about your spaces and what works or doesn’t work for you, and that starts us on a journey.”
The following advice will help ensure that individual workstations in commercial interiors effectively accommodate workers.
- Understand employee needs before bringing in new furnishings or rearranging spaces, explains Chason. For example, Globant provides plenty of individual workstations for its engineers because they frequently need multiple computers and monitors, which require large spaces with robust desks.
- Height-adjustable desks don’t have to cost much, advises Barbara Savage, Senior Associate at Stantec. “People think adjustable desks are all expensive because they’re electronic, but there are models on the market that are adjusted by crank. That keeps the cost of the mechanism down, plus you don’t have to provide power for that table,” explains Savage. “There are also units that just sit on a desk and raise the computer up to standing height. It doesn’t have to be a budget buster.”
- Keep visibility in mind, suggests Ginger Warner, Territory Representative for DIRTT. “There’s a big push to get away from individual offices and toward open-plan commercial interiors. The whole point is to have space for people to collaborate because everybody’s visible to each other and adjacent to each other,” Warner says. “However, even when you have a fairly traditional office space with offices on the perimeter and workspaces at the center, you still want to have as much visibility to each other as possible.”
- Versatile furniture and equipment in each workstation will allow employees to personalize their space to meet their needs while also enabling collaboration and engagement with nearby colleagues.
Healthy commercial interiors reap major benefits for their organizations. You can approach wellness in the workplace in any number of different ways and find great success with only simple workspace changes.
“Everybody’s talking about treadmill desks or height-adjustable desks, but it’s also healthy to just get out of your workspace,” says David Chason, Partner at AEI U.S. Studio. “The idea is for an employee to feel that they can use the square footage of the entire company, whether it’s 2 floors or 10 floors. Maybe certain types of coffee are only available on certain floors or specialty teas are placed on one floor. Not everything is at your fingertips – you have to move around the space, which benefits everyone’s health.”
While some of the featured commercial interiors have made major changes to improve efforts in fitness and wellness, many of their improvements were accomplished with minor adjustments to the workspace. The following tips provide starting points to make your facility a healthier place.
- Showers are an important component of exercise spaces where employees can work up a sweat, but they can also aid your building’s resilience during a crisis. When a hurricane hit the Fort Lauderdale, FL, area, Valley Forge was already prepared to help employees – the entire space runs off of a generator that can fill in during power outages, and the company installed extra showers and a larger locker room during its renovation so employees could head to the office for showers and hot meals in case of an emergency.
- Know your company culture. “You can design height-adjustable desks, but just because your desk is adjustable doesn’t mean you’ll stand all day,” says Barbara Savage, Senior Associate at Stantec. “It has to be part of the culture.”
- Instead of a vending machine, Savage recommends bringing in free-access healthy snacks.
- Green walls, moss walls and other interior plantscaping encourage occupant health.
- Consider a living wall or a selection of trees, plants or flowers in place of artwork.
Benefit from Active Amenities
Provide amenities in commercial interiors that promote active lifestyles. On-site shower rooms are becoming more popular for those who want the option to work out before coming into the office or during the lunch hour.
“Many employees bike or run into work, so integrating shower rooms into their workplaces is accelerating as a national trend,” says Brent Ziegler, President and Director of Design at Dyer Brown. “A lot of companies are beginning to do that so people can exercise during lunch or ride into work and get ready for the day.”
In addition to incentivizing healthy activity, providing amenities in commercial interiors can also help to maximize the use of time that workers spend at the office. Jordan Guenther, Director of Property Management at Eastman Companies, suggests employees save 15 minutes each day when they have access to amenities on-site – time that would otherwise be lost with building occupants leaving the facility to exercise.
“When occupants come to work, we have the amenities in the building that will satisfy their needs, and they won’t have to go outside,” Guenther adds.