The Leader Magazine

JUN 2018

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F E A T U R E A R T I C L E 24 June 2018 the leader t ranslating this to the workplace How do you design the physical environment in ways that will result in need satisfaction and thus, will maximize employees' ability and motivation? Based on our study of the research, we have identified seven "enablers" of need satisfaction, which can be translated into specific qualities designed into the work environment. They are: • Physical and psychological comfort • Social connection • Equity/fairness • Flexibility/control • Predictability • Visual and acoustic privacy • Physical and psychological safety and security The following are suggestions for how corporate real estate (CRE) executives, interior designers and facilities managers can use these "enablers" to create a workplace that promotes employee health, well-being and productivity. • Location: Identify a location for building office space where employees can experience predictability in commuting time to and from the location. Locate the workplace in a community where employees feel physically and psychologically safe and they can control when they can come and go from the workplace. • Amenities: Locate the workplace where important amenities are close by or are built into the building complex to create flexibility/ control in acquiring what they want (e.g., food, workouts, entertainment). Ensure amenities will provide opportunities for social engagement and connection. • Aesthetics: Build into the structure elements that employees find pleasing and give them a sense of connection with the organization. When creating the aesthetics, build in opportunities for visual and physical access to nature (biophilia) to help employees experience physical and psychological comfort. • Workstations: Choose furniture that is proven to minimize musculoskeletal disorders by supporting healthy postures and postural variation. Introduce biophilic elements to increase positive emotions, and, to boost the immune system, provide visual access to windows allowing distant views, which are important for refreshing the brain. Provide lighting compatible with circadian rhythms. • Common areas: Create spaces for meaningful social connections. Separate common spaces from workspaces to ensure visual and acoustic privacy for high concentration and confidential work. Set aside spaces for a variety of work activities to provide flexibility/ control over the location of work and to match work activities with space design. • Aesthetics: Use colors, fabrics, patterns, and materials that provide physical and psychological comfort because of their calming and restorative effect. Use colors, fabrics, etc., to match the mood desired in a specific space. • Indoor environmental quality: Build in systems and processes that control air, temperature, and acoustics, and that create physical and psychological comfort, and predictability in the environment where employees work. Give employees a sense of control over IEQ. • Technology: Incorporate technology that will create predictability with respect to use of electronics, connection to the Internet, and communications within and outside the organization. Introduce technology that allows flexibility in how employees work and where they work within the building. The preceding is offered to begin the thinking about how you can design for wellness. However, I started this article with the question, why design for wellness? I hope that the answer is clear now. We design for wellness because it is best for employees AND employers. Promoting employee health and well-being through workplace design enables employees to maintain their physical and psychological vitality and enables them to do their best work – necessary ingredients for organizational success. Cristina G. Banks, PhD, is director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces and senior lecturer for the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. 1. Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., and Zenios, S.A. (2016) The relationship between workplace stressor and mortality and health costs in the United States. Management Science, 62, 608-628. 2. Gallup Q12 Survey homepage,, accessed May 13, 2018. 3. 2017 Special Issue: The Work/Health Relationship. Health Affairs, 36, 199-384. 4. "Stress in America," American Psychological Association, February 4, 2015, 5. Kossek, E.E., Kalliath, T., and Kalliath, P. (2012) Achieving employee wellbeing in a changing work environment: An expert commentary on current scholarship. International Journal of Manpower, 33, 738-753.

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