‘Lifestyle’ generally refers to the way an individual or group of individuals carry out their day-to-day lives across physical, psychological, social and economic domains.
An individual’s lifestyle is moulded by their choices and the forces exerted upon them by other people and their environment. This holds true at work, where employees’ daily work routines, or lifestyles, are shaped by their choices and the conditions of the workplace. Workers’ lifestyles in the workplace can hold profound effects for their wellbeing whilst at work as well as at home.
Two major factors that can negatively affect workers’ health in offices are lack of movement and poor diet choices.
The key to keeping active in the office is not to sit still for too long: either change seating positions regularly, use a standing workstation or take short breaks to walk about the workplace. Even such small, regular bouts of activity can significantly increase productivity. Professor Koen Steemers’ 2015 paper ‘Architecture for Well-being and Health’ advises that employers subtly encourage employees to take breaks by designing attractive circulation spaces that combine natural light, views to the outdoors and opportunities for casual encounter.
Moving about the office often is not just beneficial to general physical health, it also can give one’s eyes a break. Per the American Optometric Association, office workers who spend most of their day looking at a screen can develop computer vision syndrome, which entails symptoms such as blurred vision, dry, red or itchy eyes, headaches and neck pain.
Stress caused by time pressure from work tasks and a physically uncomfortable workspace can be exacerbated by a diet beset by too much caffeine and lacking adequate water and fresh fruit and vegetables. In order to support healthy eating and drinking habits, employers should provide water and produce in their workplaces. Indeed, a 2018 CBRE ‘healthy office’ study showed that participants with access to fresh fruit and fruit infused water in the office reported a 45% improvement in their performance versus days without such amenities. Further, 78% of participants said they felt more energized, 66% happier and 52% healthier.
Healthy lunches can also play an important role. Regularly cooking food at home tends to result in a healthier diet than eating out, a 2017 University of Washington study found. Employers can encourage workers to eat better by providing adequate canteen space to prepare and consume their lunches – ideally away from their computer screens!
Key points for architects and designers:
- CREATE ATTRACTIVE CANTEEN AND CIRCULATION SPACES
- FURNISH WORKSPACES WTH ERGONOMIC SEATING TO PROMOTE ACTIVITY
- REDUCE GLARE BY APPLYING SOLAR FILM TO WINDOWS NEAR DESKS
UNStudio’s RESET Stress Reduction Pods address work-related stress by creating a soothing environment tailored to an individual’s brain activity. The RESET pods engage their user with colour and sound, or provide them an intimate and restful environment. Ultimately, they reflect employers’ responsibility to take design decisions that help their employees cope with stress and promote a healthy lifestyle.
UNStudio Team: Luke Parkhurst, Filippo Lodi, Bart Chompff, Marisa Cortright