Designing Spaces for General Wellness
Some organizations proposed that an effective and expedient post-pandemic return to office could be done by creating a sense of FOMO. FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out.
Some employers proposed that coffee stations, free lunches and supporting some new Perks would make their staff flock back into the office. However the concepts of The Great Resignation Wave and Quiet Quitting indicated that the return to office was not about added perks or even about money. People were no longer defining personal success by the speed and/or height in which they climbed the corporate ladder.
People were craving a sense of belonging, a sense of self worth and most of all a sense of community. Was this a result of working in isolation for months? Was this a result of having to focus on the finite details of having to create a balance of work/life priorities? Maybe…
In a recent blog I talked about Sensory Design and how the impact of our environment is from the total experience of all of our senses. There are many design concepts that impact our senses and ultimately how we interact within our spaces. It’s not unrealistic to believe that by implementing some of these concepts a sense of belonging and community can be organically created.
Wellness by Design is about curating the spaces around us to support and ultimately benefit our physical and mental health. Is the space where you work designed to support your wellness and the wellness of the people around you? Let’s explore some basic principles of Wellness by Design and how you might add them to your space to support wellness.
For many years, ergonomics have been at the forefront of how we design spaces. It is important that the height of desks and tables will accommodate people with a varying range of abilities. Our physical health can also be supported by how we experience our surroundings. If our minds are not calm and relaxed it can result in poor physical health.
As an example – it has been proven that a cluttered and chaotic environment can and will impact your anxiety levels. Excessive and constant anxiety can have an impact on our central nervous system, cardiovascular system, excretory and digestive system, immune system, and our respiratory system. That’s a lot of our body’s systems that can be impacted by stress.
By creating calm zones we can control the feelings of chaos or over stimulation that may be experienced within or when entering a new space. Calm zones can also be viewed as areas of respite; where one can stop and rest to “regroup”. Think of the foyer in our homes; where we get to take a quick break before we enter. Think of this as a transition space – where you make changes physically (removing jackets and shoes) and mentally prepare for how you will greet and interact the people already in that space. How can you replicate this transition space for people coming into your workspace?
In addition to being strategically located, calm zones with an organic and soothing palette are generally more impactful. When we more fully understand our need for sensory stimulation we begin to appreciate the impact it has on our experience with our environment.
The use of natural materials, biophilic colours and creating a connection to the outdoors are all ways to allow our senses to experience calm. By integrating colours and/or fractal images that are found in nature we can support the much needed connection to the outdoors in the indoors.
We can add these design elements to spaces to promote sense of community, but let’s not overlook personal sense of belonging. By considering the needs of each individual using the space and adding personal spaces for each person we can support their desire to return to office. If your office is moving towards hybrid there may no longer be a need for individual workstations or desks for each individual. Perhaps personal lockers are the best solution to accommodate an “owned” and personal space. This allows everyone to have an individual space to call their own but they also have the ability to move freely through the space and truly integrate with the community.
What are some of the concepts of Wellness by Design that you can begin to integrate into your space to support a sense of community and belonging in your space?
Calm zones…soothing palettes…personalized organization…what combination of these things would work best for your space?