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Optimize Productivity by Designing for Health and Wellness

April 10, 2018

Adding amenities to emphasize wellness makes employees happier. By designing for health and fitness, you can improve productivity in the workplace.

Health and fitness are central to recruiting new talent to your organization, so amenities and features that positively contribute to wellness are key.

“Happy employees produce measurably better results and report higher job satisfaction, so wellness improvements represent a win-win scenario: employees are happier, and the company enjoys both high productivity and improvements in recruitment prospects and retention rates,” explains Sara Ross, director of corporate services at Dyer Brown.

It’s important that the workplace becomes more than a place where employees sit for hours on end. Proper design can energize building occupants.

“When employees feel energized by their workday experience, their productivity and on-the-job satisfaction both improve,” says Deniz Ferendeci, director of asset design + support at Dyer Brown. “Many companies and commercial property owners are introducing fitness amenities and offering healthier food options. So many of us spend a significant portion of our lives in an office environment, making that environment as healthy as possible is a must.”

Providing amenities and building features that make people feel refreshed pays dividends. Improve morale and productivity with these tips.

  • Encourage employees to be active. Providing ample parking for bikes or on-site locker rooms and showers support a culture of fitness at the office.
  • Gyms and other fitness-centered areas should feel well-lit and open, explains Joshua Zinder, founding partner of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D). “The goal for gym space is not feeling like it’s in a closet,” Zinder says. “When people exercise, they want to feel like they’re in a big open room with a lot of air.”
  • Game rooms contribute to employee bonding and facilitate socialization, which encourages retention and employee engagement, says Cristine Henderson, associate vice president, Commercial Architecture at Hoefer Wysocki, an architecture, planning and interior design firm.
  • Carefully consider the type of furniture products. “They will need to support employee health, activity and wellness (e.g., with options for sitting or standing) as well as fit the space’s mission,” Ross says.
  • Promote movement around the office. At Tangram Interiors, the design includes walkstations on the mezzanine for employees to get up and move during the workday, notes Marisa Anderson, marketing manager for Tangram Interiors.
(Photo credit: Hoefer Sysocki)

SelectQuote Insurance Services’ previous office had a small, undesirable fitness room, so when the company moved to its new 80,000-square-foot space, a larger fitness room with showers was an important component of the generous amenities in the design.

The fitness room also features windows that look out toward the patio and green space. One of the break rooms is adjacent to the fitness center, and the two floors also include coffee bars, a game room and a media room.

[Related: Step Up Your Fitness Facility Game]

“Happy employees produce measurably better results and report higher job satisfaction, so wellness improvements represent a win-win scenario: employees are happier, and the company enjoys both high productivity and improvements in recruitment prospects and retention rates,” explains Sara Ross, director of corporate services at Dyer Brown.

It’s important that the workplace becomes more than a place where employees sit for hours on end. Proper design can energize building occupants.

(Photo credit: Cambridge Seven)

The updated Matouk campus features a landscaped employee dining plaza with outdoor seating and a one-acre park featuring a quarter-mile walking path, serving as a relaxing place for employees to bike, walk or picnic together.

“When employees feel energized by their workday experience, their productivity and on-the-job satisfaction both improve,” says Deniz Ferendeci, director of asset design + support at Dyer Brown. “Many companies and commercial property owners are introducing fitness amenities and offering healthier food options. So many of us spend a significant portion of our lives in an office environment, making that environment as healthy as possible is a must.”

(Photo credit: Andy Ryan | Dyer Brown) 

Wellness isn’t just about being active. True Fit offers employees natural lighting and views of the city that improve productivity.

(Photo credit: Michael Slack | JZA+D)

A splash of green on the walls brings the outside in at the cafe at 506 Carnegie Center in Princeton, NJ. A large bank of windows on the other side of the tables lets natural light stream into the eating area.

(Photo credit: Michael Slack | JZA+D)

Tenants taking a break at 506 Carnegie Center’s cafe have an expansive view of the courtyard. The gazebo can host parties and events and even features a kegerator space in the middle, while a nearby barbecue pavilion is sheltered under a wood trellis that resembles the exposed wood beams in the cafe. Visual references like these provide continuity throughout the property, and the exposed ceiling makes the space seem bigger.

(Photo credit: Bjorg Magnea)

The green wall at Alphasights, an information services company, is part of a large, open town hall and cafe area that can host larger gatherings. Open spaces were a crucial component of the design because Alphasights also needed to accommodate a large capacity across its two and a half floors.

[Read also: 5 Trending Tenant Amenity Ideas for Your Facility]

“Even though the space is very dense, the challenge was making it feel pleasant. We certainly wanted to try to avoid the football field of a giant sea of desks,” explains Jeff Knoll, director of design for Ted Moudis Associates.

(Photo credit: Garrett Rowland) Amenities are key to One Legacy West, an office building in Plano, TX. It includes an informal lounge with a ping pong table, a fitness center and yoga studio, full-service locker rooms and cardio equipment.

“In order to divide these spaces up in a way that maintains the integrity of the open aesthetic, Perkins+Will’s (previously lauckgroup) design team used wood slats and glass walls to separate the lobby and amenity area into distinct zones without impacting sightlines,” explains Sara Barnes, project designer at Perkins+Will.

(Photo credit: Garrett Rowland) The design of One Legacy West is intended to allow tenants to get the most out of the space. Amenities like the locker rooms make the facility a one-stop location for workers in the building.

Health and Wellness Tips

Providing amenities and building features that make people feel refreshed pays dividends. Improve morale and productivity with these tips.

  • Encourage employees to be active. Providing ample parking for bikes or on-site locker rooms and showers support a culture of fitness at the office.
  • Gyms and other fitness-centered areas should feel well-lit and open, explains Joshua Zinder, founding partner of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D). “The goal for gym space is not feeling like it’s in a closet,” Zinder says. “When people exercise, they want to feel like they’re in a big open room with a lot of air.”
  • Game rooms contribute to employee bonding and facilitate socialization, which encourages retention and employee engagement, says Cristine Henderson, Associate Vice President, Commercial Architecture at Hoefer Wysocki, an architecture, planning and interior design firm.
  • Carefully consider the type of furniture products. “They will need to support employee health, activity and wellness (e.g., with options for sitting or standing) as well as fit the space’s mission,” Ross says.
  • Promote movement around the office. At Tangram Interiors, the design includes walkstations on the mezzanine for employees to get up and move during the workday, notes Marisa Anderson, marketing manager for Tangram Interiors.
(Photo credit: Warren Patterson Photography)

Boston Scientific Corporation’s global customer fulfillment center in Quincy, MA, revamped an antiquated warehouse building into an amenity-filled corporate office and distribution facility for the global medical device manufacturer.

Featuring ample natural light and photos that highlight products and patient success stories, the fitness center is one of several amenities intended to enhance the employee experience.

(Photo credit: Warren Patterson Photography) The game room at Boston Scientific Corporation’s Quincy, MA, fulfillment center is a popular destination for employees. The multi-purpose facility is affectionately referred to as the company’s “regional hub” thanks to its impressive amenities, proximity to Boston Logan Airport and easy commute.
(Photo credit: Garrett Rowland) The gym at Foot Locker’s New York City office is strategically located next to windows so that employees can enjoy some sunlight as they work out. Exposed ductwork and beams make the space look larger. In addition to the exercise area, the athletic shoe retailer also opted for an interconnecting staircase that links all three floors to promote exercise and well-being and reduce reliance on building elevators.
Retail Design Collaborative and Studio One Eleven brought in five local artists to paint murals in the office, including this one in the game room.

The office was the second architectural firm in the U.S. to achieve WELL Gold certification. (Photo credit: Retail Design Collaborative and Studio One Eleven)

Formerly a Nordstrom Rack retail anchor, this 34,102-square-foot office in Long Beach, CA, is now the creative office of architecture firms Retail Design Collaborative and Studio One Eleven. The outdoor patio and urban porches (gathering spaces that face the street as a way to physically interact with the community) are the firms’ primary gathering space.

(Photo credit: Retail Design Collaborative and Studio One Eleven)

Habits at Work, an innovative context design company based in Chicago, wanted to encourage the comfort, productivity and wellness of its own employees in the same way it fosters high performance in its clients.

(Photo credit: Sagegreenlife)
Living Walls Put the ‘Green’ in Greenbuild

A growing trend, these living walls have become an easy way for companies in a variety of sectors — healthcare, office, hospitality, etc. — to incorporate sustainable design into their building or facility while also promoting the health and well-being of employees.


A living wall was “a natural fit” for the company, explains Zachary Smith, senior marketing manager of living wall manufacturer Sagegreenlife. “Emerging workplace research highlights how plants and living walls have positive effects on problem-solving skills, ideation, and creativity, adding incredible benefits to the Habits at Work space in the form of increased quality output.”

(Photo credit: Garrett Rowland) Foot Locker’s New York City office is imbued with the fun, carefree spirit of its retail units. Open work areas like these are located along perimeter windows to bring in natural daylight.
(Photo credit: Garrett Rowland) The space Mediabrands moved into had a series of free-standing, cubelike meeting rooms lining the cafe, but the playful architectural features were barely noticeable, notes Jeff Knoll, senior associate and design director at Ted Moudis Associates. The team covered the cubes with faux boxwood to create “sculpted hedges,” Knoll says.The entire 95,000-square-foot floor was finished on a budget and the ability to make structural changes was limited, so the designers concentrated on bright and cheerful finishes, furnishings and reorganization.
A full fitness facility – including a gym suite complete with shower and locker rooms – was an important amenity for the investment firm’s staff to adapt to their lengthy work schedules.

Other additions include a cafe with a full kosher kitchen and mothers’ resting space. (Photo credit: Planeta Design Group)

Justin Feit was an associate editor for BUILDINGS.

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