Successful organizations understand that by providing a happy and healthy workplace environment, they are attracting and retaining both clientele and a productive workforce. As Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, whether at work, home or at play, it is of the utmost importance that surrounding walls act as a tool for advancing overall health and well-being instead of degrading it. But what exactly constitutes a healthy workplace environment and what are the keys to achieving it? The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI) was founded with the goal of transforming today’s buildings and communities in ways that help people live and work at their very best. The company created the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL), which outlines how design, operations and behaviors within the various places we live, work and play directly affect our health and well-being. The Standard is broken down into seven core concepts, each with detailed features which can guide in the building process for optimal occupant wellness. Below we’ll briefly explore each concept and discuss how CDI can help you reach your healthiest goals.
Image Source: ASID HQ, District of Columbia, Platinum Level WELL Certification
Air quality plays a critical role in human health. According to the World Health Organization, over seven million people died globally as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012 alone. As traffic, construction, agricultural activity and other pollution factors continue to increase outdoor air pollutants, the quality of the air we breathe indoors can be negatively affected as well. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans spend approximately 90% of their time within the built environment, where the concentration of some pollutants can be up to five times higher than outdoor levels. WELL outlines building requirements and best practices through features such as air filtration, cleaning protocols and building material selection that improve and promote healthy air quality for all inhabitants and visitors. You can read more on WELL’s air concept and features here.
Optimal human health and well-being are dependent on clean drinking water. Consuming enough water on a daily basis aids in weight management, proper hydration and the regulation of bodily functions. In 2017, UNICEF and the World Health Organization reported that 3 in 10 people worldwide, roughly 2 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home and 6 in 10 people lack safely managed sanitation. While millions of people have gained access to basic drinking water and sanitation services in recent years, contamination remains a major public health issue as exposure to potentially harmful levels of biological, chemical and mineral contaminants continues to persist in both rural and urban environments. The WELL Building Standard developed its water concept in effort to enhance water quality for human health in the context of different uses. Features of WELL’s water concept outline the limitations of organic and inorganic contaminants, water quality testing and proper accessibility.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over two thirds of all American adults over age 20 are overweight. Lack of physical activity and poor eating habits have driven a vast majority of our population into detrimental health issues. The WELL Building Standard goes further into detail on how crucial the availability of fresh, wholesome foods is for our society, and how we need to continue to encourage healthy dietary patterns and practices. You can read more on the nourishment concept and features here.
For organizations that utilize hospitality hubs and work cafes, this is an excellent location to promote healthy dietary practices. Employees spend a significant portion of their day within the workplace and in following WELL’s outlined best practices, employers are keeping their workforce happy and healthy. These third spaces are a wise choice for all industries, including corporate, healthcare and educational environments. Providing the tools and furnishings that allow for occupants to practice mindful eating and healthy food storage, preparation and production will attract and retain visitors and workers and encourage healthy workplace food culture.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Wallem Offices – Hong Kong
As previously discussed on the CDI blog, natural light plays a crucial role in optimal human health and workplace productivity. Both natural and artificial lighting influences not only our vision, but our body’s internal clocks that synchronize daily physiological functions. Insufficient illumination or inadequate lighting design can lead to eye strain and fatigue, slowed psychomotor reflexes, disrupted sleep-wake cycles, depression and shortened attention spans, all of which negatively impact our daily lives and activities. The WELL Building Standard has broken down this concept into features, such as shades and dimming control, safe proximity to windows and glare control, all of which aid in the building construction process and act as a health-conscious guideline when redesigning indoor spaces. You can read more on the WELL light concept and its features here.
Building orientation, window design and interior furnishings are just a few methods of building design that can more effectively incorporate natural and artificial light. Benching systems like Kimball’s Xsede® Height Adjust or Canopy™ eliminate walls and provide adaptable, ergonomically friendly workstations that allow light to flow freely within a space. Consider integrating movable wall systems to maximize your building’s light sources. Trendway, a leading manufacturer in architectural products, offers three types of wall systems, each boasting a commitment to sustainability and clear glass components that simultaneously provide privacy and harness light. Consult the CDI design team for further direction in creating a healthy, well-lit environment and visit the CDI blog to read more on the wealth of benefits natural light brings.
The WELL Building Standard promotes regular physical activity, which is essential for weight control, improved mental health and for combating health conditions and diseases. Insufficient activity and extended periods of sedentary behavior can have major health risks that directly affect engagement and productivity in the office. Besides offering fitness incentive programs and general education on the benefits of an active lifestyle, organizations can incorporate active furnishings, fitness equipment and physical activity spaces within their built environment. Safco offers a wide range of active seating options, from adjustable height stools to swivel balls. Sit-stand desking options, like those offered by Humanscale, and Kimball’s height-adjustable Canopy™ and Dock® tables and Xsede® benching systems are also versatile choices that provide maximum flexibility and the ability for users to adjust their work style throughout the day. Consult with the CDI design team for further thought-starters on how you can boost physical activity and limit sedentary behavior in your space. Read more on the WELL fitness concept here.
In pursuit of the most comfortable indoor environment possible, WELL’s comfort concept looks to limit distractions and reduce common sources of disruption. Concept features include thermal comfort, sound masking and acoustic planning. Following WELL’s May 2018 updates, thermal comfort and sound will stand alone as concepts as these play a substantial role in the built environment. Other features associated with the comfort concept include ergonomically friendly furniture and equipment, which we’ve previously discussed on the CDI blog. Negative effects of poorly designed office and workstation furniture range from damaged joints to chronic bodily pains, headaches to increased risk of health conditions and diseases. Fortunately, ergonomic solutions are simple to implement and offer an opportunity to significantly boost health and wellness. Adjustable height tables and desks, monitor arms, keyboard trays and chairs from renowned manufacturers such as Kimball, Humanscale, Safco Active Seating, SitOnIt and Allseating, are all tools with which organizations can support healthy postures, movement and overall employee and visitor comfort. Learn more on office ergonomics and workplace comfort here.
The WELL Building Standard seeks to optimize not only physical health within our buildings, but mental health as well. Through design, technology and treatment strategies, WELL outlines best practices and procedures for superior cognitive and emotional health. Features include biophilic design, health and wellness awareness and adaptable spaces. CDI has committed to incorporating many of these features into its own space, providing a healthy atmosphere for its employees and setting a positive example for visitors and clients. Biophilic design elements, such as living walls, natural textures and graphics and an abundance of natural light, produce bountiful physical and physiological benefits. Creating an adaptable workspace that allocates privacy, space management and even workplace sleep support can help alleviate stress and enable focused work. Wisely chosen interior furnishings and spacial planning play an important role in occupant health and well-being, and the CDI design team can lend their industry knowledge on creating a mindfully built environment.
CDI Waukesha Showroom
Becoming WELL Certified
Buildings and communities can earn their WELL Certification by meeting requirements on each of the Standard’s seven core concepts. While each building will have unique features, the Institute’s Standard provides a framework that will benefit employees and visitors alike. Hundreds of organizations from around the world have started their journey of becoming WELL certified, meeting meticulous health and sustainability goals. Browse all of the WELL community projects, which include the ASID National Headquarters and other corporate and residential projects around the globe, on IWBI’s website.
The next version of WELL will be launching in May 2018. In addition to strengthening its current features, three new concepts will be added. Sound, Materials and Community will be incorporated into the Standard, and the Comfort concept will morph into a focus on Thermal Comfort, to guarantee that WELL buildings are targeting all facets of human health and wellness. An improved performance verification process within WELL’s certification process will also be released in May, ensuring that certified buildings are performing at superior capacity.
Contact the CDI Design team for further information on the WELL Building Standard and for personal guidance in your journey toward a healthier tomorrow.
CDI Client Installation
Top Featured Image Source: Delos Headquarters in NY, Platinum Level WELL Certification
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Corporate Design Interiors (CDI) is an industry-leading commercial furniture dealership whose award-winning product knowledge, thoughtful design coupled with strategic planning deliver functional and inspiring interiors designed to foster employee well-being, productivity and engagement. CDI’s relentless focus on delivering positive workplaces mirroring the culture and vision of companies while delivering a high value investment has earned CDI diverse clients including; established Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits/public sector and energetic startups.
As a “Select” Kimball dealer, CDI’s excellence in sales, partnership, quality improvement, community involvement and overall business best practices earned it the 2017 Kimball Premier Partner Award. CDI was selected among 52 other Kimball Select dealerships throughout the country for this industry-leading honor, earning additional praise for its company culture and enterprise practices.
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