Culture / 18 May 2017
Workplace Health: Improving Employee Wellness through Architecture and Design

The future of employee health and wellness lies in the hands of our designers.

Improving employee health, and consequently, their productivity is not a new concept. Both large and small companies have implemented health and wellness programs for weight loss, smoking cessation, and on-site health testing. However, recent research indicates those programs aren’t enough.

Despite these programs being available, health statistics remain grim. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, claiming over 600,000 people every year. That’s 1 in 4 deaths attributed to poor heart health. Other health issues are on the rise as well. According to the CDC, 29 million Americans are living with pre-diabetes, a condition that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% – 95% of all diabetes cases.

It’s not only our physical health that’s declining but our mental health as well. Depression affects 16 million American adults every year. The CDC estimates that 1 out of 6 adults will experience depression at some point in their life.

If health and wellness programs are available in the workplace, why are these issues not improving?

Genetics, diet, and exercise are all important factors when assessing the risk of disease, but these issues all have one other common denominator: a sedentary lifestyle.

While some individuals may choose a sedentary lifestyle, a recent survey conducted in Great Britain shows that the working environment is at fault for many people. They report that approximately 40% of men and women spend less than 30 minutes of the day on their feet. Half of those surveyed ate their lunch at their desk and 78% felt they spent too much time sitting. Another article in the Washington Post used an easy to read graphic to outline all the health issues associated with prolonged sitting. The American Academy of Family Physicians posted an article stating the average person spends over half their day sitting, whether at a desk, commuting, or at home.

The challenge now is how to change the work environment to promote a more active lifestyle. The Center for Active Design has answered that challenge, creating workplace design features that improve employee health. They have become the licensed operator of Fitwel, a service that offers training and certification to companies looking to improve employee health through workplace design.

A few of these new design features could include:

  • Incorporating more natural light
  • Offering flexible work spaces
  • Providing healthy snack foods
  • Strategic stair placement to inspire use

To obtain more information on improving workplace health through architecture and design, please contact us at Studio Other. We strive to work with every client to ensure their interior environment enhances the brand and culture of their company.