Recently, Kay Sargent, VP of A+D and Workplace Strategies at Teknion, hosted a roundtable discussion on design’s impact on well-being in the workplace. She and the participants discussed what defines a “good” or “healthy” work environment and how does one achieve it in a space?
The sustainability movement has lead to a new awareness of how to design buildings to be more sustainable. But what are we doing for the occupant? True, greener buildings are healthier for the occupant with better lighting, more access to natural daylight, reduced exposure to toxins and increased fresh air. But that’s not enough. Sitting stagnantly at a desk staring at a computer all day is killing us faster than anything else. Many office-based workers are not living healthy lives, and we as the design community have an opportunity to change that.
On April 5th, Teknion hosted Sue Schmidt of Healthways to speak to industry thought leaders in New York to discuss how designers can improve well-being in the workplace through the power of informed design. The session included a presentation by Sue, a lively interactive discussion among the designers present, and was followed by a group interview conducted by Susan Szenasy of Metropolis magazine.
Sue’s background is in Facilities and Real Estate with a focus on built environment design. As a Well-Being Design Leader at Healthways, Sue’s role is to help organizations create optimized physical environments that support well-being.
The health and well-being of an individual affects many aspects that impact work, including absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity and healthcare costs. One’s well-being is determined by a combination of factors. Surprisingly, access to care only influences 10 percent of one’s well-being, while genetics and environment comprise 20 percent each, with healthy behavior responsible for 50 percent of an individual’s well-being. How we design spaces today can impact an individual’s well-being and determine if they thrive or dive at work. But how do we define a “good” work environment? If the definition is one that increases productivity, drives retention and makes an organization an “employer of choice,” then well-being is a factor that we can’t overlook.