We are in the midst of a big transition from health care to health maintenance, from treatment to prevention. In the centre of which is the office, a space where we spend a good third to two third of our day in. We expect that in the near future, a new iteration of workspace health and wellness features will be readily incorporated into offices. These future workspaces shall help employers to reduce productivity-loss and healthcare costs by enhancing employee wellbeing.
To start, medical sensors are increasingly being tested in corporate office interior design. Capable of measuring and analysing health metrics such as blood-sugar levels, blood pressure and heart rate, these sensors could inform users how to better manage their health at work. Additionally, collected data could help employers to better design workspaces and manage workloads of their employees. Implementation of medical sensors can be done into each touchpoint that an individual workstation has with a user. This includes the computer or work devices that employees are on, his/her office chair, mouse and even the spaces surrounding them.
A second trend involves the creation of physically supportive spaces. These spaces feature active workstations and layouts that support movement at work. Examples include adjustable desks, walk and talk meeting spaces and alternative seating spaces. Such spaces encourage employees to physically move throughout their work day which in turn helps to reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, depression, stroke and dementia. Both indoor and outdoor gardens are being used to great effect to invite users to leave their workstation for short breaks. When combined with mandated routines such as the watering of plants, employees feel comfortable taking time away from their work desk and unknowingly recharging themselves.
In addition to physically active spaces, mentally supportive spaces are also increasingly popular with large corporations. Coworking spaces and open office environments have been championed by tech giants and creative brands. These environments encourage employees to refocus through change of environment, increase interaction with co-workers in designated spaces and boost creativity through a variety of visual stimulations. The WELL Building Standard certification requires that offices have restorative spaces that are stress free and allow employees to recover. Automatic circadian lighting is a new technology that mimics a day’s varying degrees of natural sunlight, thus stabilising individual’s wake and sleep cycle.
Future corporate office interior design will increasingly incorporate healthcare features that will boost the wellbeing of employees. Employers should keep themselves updated with the latest technologies and take a proactive stance to adopting new ideas that will help to lower productivity loss and healthcare costs.