Well-being in the workplace has been the subject of many studies, resulting in the formation of the International WELL Building Institute in 2013 to “improve human health and well-being through the built environment”. The popularity of the Institute’s certification indicates that the future of office interior design is in incorporating features with health and well-being in mind.
The human-centred approach of the WELL Building Standard® has gained a lot of interest worldwide, with hundreds of projects signing up for certification. Surveys of staff working in certified buildings highlight some very impressive results:
- 83% of staff feel more productive
- 92% say the new space has had a positive effect on their health and well-being
- 94% reported a positive impact on their business performance
- 93% believe the new design helps them to collaborate with others more easily
How to achieve a well building
Architects are now working with anthropologists to understand how to improve working environments around human health. This doesn’t have to be an expensive or invasive measure and can be as simple as providing more water bottle stations, or locating printers in different areas to encourage people to move more.
In its study Office Futures: Workshift, a London property consultancy concluded that employees work best in flexible and diverse environments which give them the opportunity to do focused, independent work, concluding that “As the onus moves to employee wellness (and by inference retention and recruitment), using flexible working to increase productivity and happiness will be more important.”
Google has become a famous and oft-quoted example of interior office design which embraces well-being in the workplace, but designs don’t have to be so ambitious to work well. SEC Interiors has been designing and fitting out office and D1 interiors since 2000, including extensive interior refurbishment of Regent’s University London’s Grade II listed student halls of residence, lecture theatre and cinema. There are many similarities between D1 and office design according to Brand Manager Dean Kahl. “By their nature, classrooms are open plan, so to a certain extent, offices have gone the way of the educational institutions, although it’s a cyclical process and new office designs are now influencing educational spaces. As an example, Bedfordshire University Library was designed with desk space to work on but also has co-working spaces and group rooms.”
Companies hoping to attract the younger generations need to be mindful that millennials are having a huge influence on office design in the capital with their preferences for as many quiet working spaces as there are spaces for social interaction. And now, according to Kahl, design trends in the London business hubs are beginning to radiate out of the capital, with companies on the periphery of the city adopting the well-being style of interior fit-out.
According to the OED, biophilia is the “innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world”. Biophilia has become a new buzzword in terms of interior design and architecture and is currently gaining pace around the globe. Biophilic architecture involves the use of natural materials and as much natural light as possible. Interiors are designed to take us back to our evolutionary roots in nature by using as many plants and natural materials as possible to counteract the disconnect humans have with modern architecture, artificial lighting, synthetic furniture and the need to stare into the artificial world created by looking at computers all day. It seems the days of a neglected spider plant perched on the top of a filing cabinet are long gone…
For further information on any of our property services, or to discuss any aspect of your commercial property portfolio, please do not hesitate to contact Michael Boardman, or a member of the MB&A team, on 020 7118 3456.