Spaces for Health and Well-Being
IN THE JLL REPORT “How to Create a Workplace That’s Fit for
the Future,” Bernice Boucher, lead of Workplace Strategy Practice
in the Americas for the commercial real estate giant, said, “
fostering greater well-being … means making informed decisions about
the nature of the workplace environment.” That’s why many companies are making changes and adding amenities to support their
employees’ health, including on-site fitness classes and walking
challenges. But even though these types of initiatives are a step in
the right direction, creating health and well-being in our workplaces needs to go beyond these measures. For interior designers,
that means using evidence-based design solutions to create spaces
that promote healthy behaviors and overall well-being.
That’s how we approached the new ASID headquarters
in Washington, D.C. We knew we wanted the office to be an
example of the important role interior design plays in creating
workplaces that respond to the health and well-being of the
people who will occupy them (“A Living Laboratory,” page 30).
We also wanted to show that these healthy workspaces benefit
companies, because healthier employees bring more energy,
creativity, and overall productivity.
Why should companies care about employee health and
well-being? Ninety percent of a company’s operating costs are
related to its human capital, according to Bill Browning (ICONic
Profile, p. 52) in The Economics of Biophilia: Why Designing with
Nature in Mind Makes Sense. Improvements in employee health can
mean fewer sick days—an Australian report estimated the cost to
business of ill health and absenteeism at $7 billion per year. Another
study from JLL shows a 20-percent increase in employee productivity when working in a space designed for health and wellness.
Office design has a significant effect on a business’ bottom line.
Americans worked an average of 1,790 hours in 2015, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development. For office workers, that’s many hours sitting
indoors, hunched over desks. Improving health and well-being
for these workers requires that we make a fundamental shift in
our approach to workspaces, assessing at each stage of the process how office layout, materials, furnishings, light, and air affect
the people who occupy the space.
The intersection of design and human health and well-being
is the focus of this issue of ASID ICON. Our cover story offers a
tour of the new ASID office, which incorporates many innovations
in its bright, collaborative workspace. We also explore the relatively new WELL Building Standard, which looks at a building’s
impact on occupant health through the lens of seven concepts: air,
water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Learn more
about how nature impacts people with biophilic design, and see
an example of a biophilic element in “How It’s Made,” where an
Italian artisan’s clay wall coverings bring the earth indoors. Our
“Tech Talk” article digs into the science behind circadian lighting,
and how light affects human cycles. Bill Browning, the focus of this
issue’s “ICONic Profile,” is a leader in green design.
The demand for healthy interiors is growing, and interior
designers are leading the way by designing spaces that make
well-being a priority.
Randy W. Fiser