3 Key Factors for Work Environment Design and Wellbeing
Improving wellbeing and productivity in work environments is a critical issue. In American companies alone, loss of productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than 300 billion dollars a year. Numerous studies affirm that work environment design increases both productivity and user wellbeing. But how can we measure that increase? In response to that challenge, part of my doctoral research programme included developing a methodological tool for measuring how work environments impact variations in people’s wellbeing and productivity. Based on a holistic approach, the tool included physiological, psychological, emotional and cultural parameters.
No magic recipe exists for a perfect work environment, but after having analysed many specific cases I’ve found that three particular factors are recurrent in excellent work environments:
Although it may seem contradictory, offices are becoming increasingly smarter and, at the same time, increasingly more human. Technological and cultural changes are reshaping work environments, and office spaces are ceasing to be places dedicated exclusively to work activity and becoming corporate means of consolidating a sense of community and fomenting collaboration. In this regard, there’s now a need for workspaces to be versatile enough to adapt to employees’ changing needs.
2-Show employees the benefits, with clear explanations
Showing people all the possibilities the environment offers and making them aware of how beneficial a healthy environment is for their wellbeing are crucial for team motivation and boost productivity and creativity. I have quantified increases of 63.34% in productivity and 137.50% in creativity when users are offered not only an excellent design but also proper training in how to use their workspace.
3-The planted aquarium: the dark horse of biophilic design
The United Nations predicts that 60% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments by 2030. It’s therefore imperative for us to think about how people living in cities can be kept in contact with Nature. The answer is biophilic design: bringing nature into the built environment.
One very complete biophilic design solution is aquascaping, or underwater landscaping, which combines different natural elements such as natural vegetation, oxygenation, the sound and movement of water, and circadian lighting. If the aquarium includes animals as well as plants, it’s important to make it as similar as possible to their natural habitat, providing them with enough space, and water of a sufficiently high quality, for them not only to survive but to live in a state of wellbeing.
Many studies have shown that planted aquariums have an impact on interior ambient conditions, regulating ambient humidity and improving thermal comfort. This in turn leads to higher levels of personal wellbeing, with quantifiable benefits.