Haya El Nasser at USA Today wrote an article in October about the way office design can stymie or promote more physical activity. It’s all well and good to encourage employees to use the stairs rather than the elevator. But what if the stairs are hidden in musty stairwells behind heavy fire doors while the open mouth of the cushy elevator invites employees in the moment they enter a building? Why not put the stairs front and center (while still making the elevator convenient and accessible)? Would you climb more at work if the stairs were part of a gorgeous spiral staircase in a central atrium with a view of the sky above?
That’s the kind of question that reveals a hidden link between architecture and health. But it’s not just the basic building design that can be altered to encourage more walking. Even switching around the interior can make a difference (at a much lower cost). Putting the break room and copier/printer rooms in an area slightly apart from the main workspace can be beneficial since it builds the habit of walking in short increments throughout the day. In an office that is trying to go “paperless”, the idea that every workstation (or group of workstations) needs its own desktop printer is outdated.
Of course, the type of movement we talk about most here at Cubicles Office Environments is the kind employees can do at their desk while working. A sit to stand workstation encourages frequent changes in posture and can help relieve fatigue. When employees are less tired, and when they are already standing up, it seems like less of an inconvenience to walk around. Some workers might even show an interest in using a treadmill desk for short periods each day.
What changes would you make in office architecture, space layout, and furniture to get workers moving? Let us know in the comments.
CC license image courtesy of Flickr user Payton Chung