This is a workplace too….common attributes to a successful work environment.
When designing workspaces, there is tunnel vision that this must mean a typical office, within a typical office building on a typical city street, which for a commercial designer, it often is, but we lose track of alternative workspaces that could inspire us and broaden our minds to the simplistic, a contradiction, and therefore a far less 'typical' design, based on basic starting points, because this is a workspace too….
so, however a workspace is dressed up, what are the common attributes across many categories of workspace that make them not only successful, but a healthy start point too, focussing on wellbeing and productivity?
There are many positive effects on the human body when fresh air is introduced. The brain is sharper & more alert, blood pressure and heart rate is improved, we feel happier, stronger and more energetic, and so this is one of the most important attributes of any workspace – sufficient quantities of fresh air.
Naturally, the amount of serotonin produced within your body is in direct correlation to fresh air and so the feeling of increased happiness and wellbeing also is, in any work space this will increase productivity and efficiency and will also go a long way to retain employees, as they’ll feel a prolonged comfort in their health.
Additionally, fresh air makes a person sharper and increases energy levels. The brain needs 20% of the body’s oxygen. More oxygen brings greater clarity to the brain, improves your concentration, helps you to think more clearly and has a positive effect on energy. throughout the day, however long this may be.
As previous write ups have suggested – the effect of natural light on human behaviour is incredibly positive, and goes a long way to making a person feel healthy.
The increased level of vitamin D not only aids the body in absorbing calcium and promotes bone growth, it increases energy in a person and decreases the likeliness of many ailments and long term illnesses, including depression, which is a buzz word within the workspace design industry of recent years, with a focus on wellbeing at work and human interaction being key to many successful businesses and their increased growth.
The amount of natural light a person gets also determines the level of sleep they get at night, which has a direct impact again on their productivity, behaviour and mood the next day at work, which not only affects them, but the people within the business that are in close contact with them.
Workspace temperature is well known for being the biggest irritation to employees, and in turn employers – some are too hot, while others are too cold and so fighting over the controls and the temperature allowance is a day in day out routine.
There are so many factors to temperature control and how individuals cope with a change in temperature, for example women are more likely to feel the cold, as are people over the age of 55, whereas men are more likely to feel when it is too hot…..and so how do you please everyone?
The answer to this is to simply find a happy medium, the optimal temperature for a workspace is 21-23 degrees Celsius – this is also the ideal temperature for productivity, if too warm people tend to feel lethargic or tired, whereas too cold, people tend to move away from their primary workspace, migrating to warmer climates in the workspace and therefore not performing their daily tasks effectively.
SPACE TO BREATHE
In any workspace and true to life, having a space to take a breather is essential. This comes in so many forms and gives an individual the choice to walk away from a situation they might need to, in order to come back and feel in control and productive for the rest of the day.
In the above mentioned ‘typical workspace’ being an office this can be the tea-point, quiet zones, libraries, telephone booths and the list goes on…..
In all workspaces, this is essential and doesn’t have to be a space with swings or slides, it is simply the gesture of showing the understanding as an employer, that you get it, you know your employees need a space and so a comfortable seating space, tea, coffee, biscuits, an outside space (especially if the workspace or job role doesn’t allow for a lot of natural light regularly)
Giving people the power of choice, the space to breathe, is an indication of a caring employer and the result is employee wellbeing and retention.
Comfort is such a broad term, and in general the above will aid in this for the majority, but comfort is also based on the physical and therefore a chair, a uniform, a surface, a space or even a proximity.
It is not rocket science, productivity and wellbeing being the key terms, that if an individual is comfortable, they work harder and feel happier. An easy example of this is providing a comfortable chair to sit in, if in a job role that requires this, as this effects a person’s body and health in so many ways, with muscular-skeletal disorders and related illnesses being of the largest percentage contributing to workspace absenteeism. The same can be said for surfaces.
Additionally, more so in the less ‘typical’ workspace is the space and proximity, so many workspaces do not utilise a chair and so direct access to ‘comfort’ is essential and the proximity to this is key, humans are creatures of habit, and so an easy route from A to B in comfort terms is a win, especially if time is of the essence in a one hour break scenario.
‘I've got a theory: if you love your workspace, you'll love your work a little more.’ Cynthia Rowley, Fashion Designer