Workplace Spaces that Promote Employee Health and Wellbeing

 In Human Resources, Management, Operations, Small Business

Many companies are in the process of planning and budgeting for 2018. Give a quick look around the office, see anything you might want to change? All types of employer groups are considering how to create the best workplace for their employees.

A trend that has gained significant traction over the past couple of years is providing a space that promotes health and wellbeing. Just like workplace wellness programs look to increase health lifestyles and behaviors, so too can your office setting.

According to recent report by architectural and interior design firm Ted Moudis Associates, companies are reaching the limit of densification for personal workstations and have begun to emphasize alternative spaces for collaborative meetings and private rooms for individual work. Companies of all sizes have become interested in how to offer employees choices in how and where they work.

Alternate Space Design

Insights from the report for 2018 note that alternative seating covered about 52% of the workspaces from projects in 2017. Alternative seating includes amenity seats for casual work, café seating or informal meetings; focus seats that are free from visual and auditory distractions; and meeting seats that are either out in the open or that are enclosed and meant for teamwork and collaboration. Amenity seating in particular is expected to increase as companies want their space to promote employee wellbeing.

Research is backing another change in office settings as well. Numerous studies indicate that a highly sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to a person’s health, so many organizations are embracing the standing desk as a simple way to incorporate wellness into the workplace. The standing desk in many respects is changing how many employees approach their daily work.

Due to their cost though, it’s important to think through how to implement them throughout your workplace. Sit-stand desks are the most popular option of this type of desk and are being utilized in spaces where focus seating is available as well as for workers who stand to gain from this workstyle. Identify employees’ interest and needs first and foremost.

Sit-Stand Desk Option

Consider purchasing the sit-stand desk as it offers an easy transition to help employees incrementally move from sitting to standing at work. Experts suggest workers begin using their new desks by alternating between settings so they don’t experience a sudden shift from eight hours of sitting to eight hours of standing.

Research is showing that implementing sit-stand desks leads to lower levels of body discomfort and equal or improved productivity for employees. Increasing comfort, while decreasing inactivity is a win-win situation.

Consider Anti-Fatigue Mats

Making the switch to standing during the workday may also exacerbate or cause pain to the back and feet. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends providing an intervention like an anti-fatigue mat for those standing longer than two hours straight. These mats encourage subtle leg movement, which improves blood flow and reduces discomfort. A worthy suggestion to help ensure workers utilize their sit-stand desks for longer periods of standing time, making the desks a worthwhile investment.

Remember Desk Height and Screen Position

Lastly, when employees move to a standing position, they need to correctly set the height of their desk and position their screens correctly allowing for good posture. Desks are recommended to be set at about elbow height – so elbows are in a 90-degree position from the floor. Screen position recommendations are to have it 20-28 inches from the employee’s face. The top of the screen should be about eye level.

Creating comfortable workplace stations and areas for collaboration have the potential to positively impact the morale, health and productivity of your employees.

Sources: Alternative Spaces Likely to Grow in 2018. Buildings. November 2017. PP18-19.

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