Creating a better ‘well-being’ future through interior design
Spending almost 90% of our time indoors, and much of that whilst being at work, leading research is now demonstrating that better buildings can improve human well-being through the spaces in which we live, work, learn and play*.
In response to such research, there are many sustainable/green building standards about that you may or may not have heard of; BREEAM, LEED, Living Building Challenge & WELL Building Standard. All with various overlapping measures and certifying features to help us design & build sustainable ‘green’ buildings, whether that be residential, commercial, educational, or public.
Focusing more on the commercial interior side of things, generally, most office workers are aware of the negative health issues that impact our working days such as fatigue from bad lighting, backache from incorrect work ergonomics, noise disruption in open-plan spaces and a lack of engagement. So, it’s no surprise that, as we become more health-conscious and keen not to spend all day at our desks, that the popular buzz word, ‘Well-being’ is very much at the forefront of design with designers alike creating working environments to improve employee productivity, engagement, and retention – a collective of words that all fit rather nicely under the word – ‘well-being’.
The WELL Building Standard® is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people within buildings. Putting people first and making an economic impact on the largest annual spend for businesses; Salary and Benefits. With the vision that people who have a sense of belonging especially in businesses, will stay loyal and be more productive. Just like winning customers, it’s a lot cheaper to retain an existing member of staff versus recruiting and training up a new one.
*statistics referenced on the www.wellcertified.com website.
How do you go about creating
There are seven concepts of the WELL Building Standard, each concept containing various in-depth features, 100 in total each requiring relevant performance tests, letters of assurance and inspections, a certification.
We’ve picked out just a couple of features from the seven concepts, that we feel every office should address as a minimum for creating an environment that will satisfy employee well-being and a good starting point for becoming a WELL Certified Office, should this be something you are interested in achieving
Our Top Well-Being Office Picks
Fresh air is the basic requirement for a healthy and productive workplace. The use of air-conditioning and Mechanical ventilation systems can guarantee the circulation of fresh air using ducts and fans. They can also ensure the overall airflow direction in a building, meaning no uncomfortable draughts.
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that people working in well-ventilated offices with low levels of pollutants have double the cognitive function of those in offices with average levels of exactly the same pollutants.
Drinking water to stay hydrated
Access to good-tasting drinking water promotes hydration through the day. Even the healthiest of people unknowingly suffer from dehydration. The WELL Building standard promotes the consumption of water by making high-quality drinking water easily accessible to occupants. So get yourself a water cooler or even stock the fridge with bottles, a simple and easy benefit to implementing in your office environment.
The WELL Building Standard Nourishment concept section focuses on Healthy food choices and providing adequate eating and breakout spaces away from workstations. Looking at mindful solutions that can lead to better eating habits, encourage social interactions, and help reduce stress.
Is there always cake and biscuits appearing at the end of your colleague’s desks? Or in the meeting room – Why not consider a fruit bowl instead? Creating a designated eating space for employees, (in our minds and the WELL Building Standard) is a huge positive to satisfying employee well-being. It encourages staff to move away from their workstations and have a proper break from staring at a computer screen, so they can return fresh and ready to go again in the afternoon.
Light up your life!
Poor lighting within offices can have a huge effect on employee well-being, resulting in a low mood, eye strain and headaches. We crave natural light which is why many new buildings are built with fabulous floor to ceiling glass windows letting the outdoors in. Make the most of your natural light when designing your workspace. For areas where natural light is limited, new LED lighting can mimic natural light creating a brighter and more welcoming environment for the occupants.
In an ever-growing health-conscious world, fitness is key to human well-being. Regular physical exercise has demonstrated health-benefits and therefore ‘Fitness’ has it’s very own section under the WELL Building Standard. This section promotes the integration of physical activity into everyday life and creating the opportunities, such as accessible staircases between floors to encourage employees to opt for a few steps over the lift, a gym membership with an incentive for staff who regularly attend, tax benefits such as a cycle-to-work scheme and other opportunities like these to encourage your employees to be active.
You can even encourage movement in the office with clever workplace design and furnishings – How about a standing meeting or sit/stand workstations.
Sit back & relax in comfort
Noise within the working environment is a leading source of dissatisfaction according to employee surveys carried out by the WELL Building Standard, followed closely by poor ergonomics and thermal discomfort.
The WELL Building Standard aims to minimise unwanted noise, which can be achieved within the interior build and the application of Acoustic materials in furnishings, as well as monitoring and planning in designated ‘Quiet Zones’ to prevent stress and facilitate comfort and well-being.
With the WELL Building standard focusing on the well-being of the individual, this section in the WELL standard goes beyond just the physical appearance of the building and workplace. Providing an education on mental health and wellbeing to support employees and having treatments in place to contribute to an employee’s health within a building. Even simple health insurance and incentive schemes get a big YES under the WELL Building Standard.