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The design of holistic workspaces

In recent months, our company has been facing challenges and changes in all aspects of life, including the workplace. Indeed, the pandemic has forced all companies to review their working methods by diversifying them. Initially, the focus was mainly on the implementation of effective work from home. Now, as the return to work in office spaces is gradually taking place, new conditions have to be thought out and implemented.

By creating a holistic culture and workplaces, companies will help their employees return to the office safely and efficiently.

The various aspects of holistic workplace design.

Holistic comes from the Greek word, holè, which means totality. Holistic design is therefore a comprehensive approach to the workplace that takes into account all parameters in all forms (landscape, nature of the website, workspaces, people, productivity, well-being, health, etc.) in order to have a global and integrated vision that maintains the balance between the different components.

The use of a holistic design focused on health and interaction can create more productive and safer work environments. Indeed, when designing or reconfiguring workplaces, it is important to find design solutions that stimulate productivity and efficiency while ensuring that all users are happy and healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced workplace designers to evaluate and rethink the notion of employee happiness and well-being. Health must now also be measured in terms of social, economic and mental well-being.

The creation of holistic interaction spaces.

At the office, the social and mental well-being of employees is driven by connections and relationships between people. Indeed, humans have a primal need to be connected to each other and to nature. Virtual communications are no substitute for being together and the psychological benefits of shared effort. Indeed, although apart, work teams have found ways to feel connected, whether through virtual 5 to 7 or by maintaining regular meetings. Virtual conferencing also offered everyone the opportunity to practice presenting their ideas, which increased the capacity for exchange and collaboration.

However, the methods and results of many corporate projects are based on collective face-to-face interaction and sharing. Before the pandemic, there was already a growing demand for collaborative offices and alternative meeting spaces in all types of buildings. After the obligation of working from home and despite the power of virtual conferencing and other sharing platforms, employees overwhelmingly prefer to work in an office. As a result, the social aspect of being physically together in secure shared workspaces will have a real impact on the psyche and, consequently, on the creative process and people's ability to innovate.

A recent survey on return-to-work factors revealed that the two main reasons employees wanted to return were face-to-face collaboration and social interaction. This shows how strong and essential the desire for human interaction is to innovation. Creating safe, healthy and supportive spaces for interaction will become increasingly important in the future.

Promoting a corporate culture

Nurturing corporate and office culture is important in any holistic workplace. Leaders need to create places, opportunities and time for employees to have spontaneous conversations. Building collective knowledge is another cultural gas pedal. For example: create spontaneous lecture theaters and meeting spaces that allow new information to be less formally conveyed, as well as incidental and unplanned learning. Open spaces break down barriers and contribute to eroding the divisions that prevail today. They can strengthen a sense of community, which is a major contributor to emotional, mental and physical health. As well as display spaces that can provide employees with moments of reconnection with the company's achievements and milestones.

Companies need to create a strong office culture, where people help each other, have fun, enjoy collaborating, and are adaptable and flexible in their approach to work.

To date, social media has proven invaluable for expressing and sharing internal culture and employee milestones such as work anniversaries, progress on various achievements, highlights of various projects, etc.

Suggest options

One of the most critical factors in holistic office design is to suggest options - multiple locations to perform daily tasks in any workplace. Offering options for staff location, levels of confidentiality and collaboration creates a sense of comfort and control.

In addition, offering choice is essential to fostering employee happiness and commitment. When employees have some autonomy over when and where they work, they not only have the opportunity to choose what they find most productive for the defined task but also what is most productive for themselves.

Customize the workplace

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all workstations, seat assignments based on hierarchy or department and mandatory morning start times. Work and life are increasingly intertwined, and choice and personalization remain a key approach to engaging work teams and attracting new talent. In fact, a Future of Work survey found that 78% of people cite "flextime and teleworking" as the most effective non-monetary means of increasing retention.

The holistic workplace should allow people to choose when and where work is done. Workplace spaces should seize the opportunity to change in ways that improve all aspects of well-being. Encouraging teams to participate in the design, protocols and culture changes of office and telework policies keeps them invested in the outcome. Integrating intelligent technology allows for customization of regular building functions such as lighting and temperature, which have a direct impact on emotional well-being. Flexible seating can be booked on an application to make the office experience efficient and easy for teams to connect. Smart technology applications can also be designed to integrate with other health and wellness initiatives that may be offered, such as mental health resources, coaching or mentoring.

To learn more about contactless smart building technology to improve worker health and wellness, read this blog post from Lib. blog post:

Leverage biophysical design in your workspaces

Biophilia is an innate human tendency to be linked both directly and indirectly to nature. Biophilia therefore has a positive impact on physical, cognitive and emotional well-being. Recent research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown significant improvements in all physiological measurements (blood pressure, heart rate variability and the body's physical response to stress) of people using spaces with biophilic design elements. It was also shown that biophilic spaces were preferred by most employees and improved creative cognitive function, production and well-being.

In addition, many employees reported feeling rejuvenated, energized and inspired by plant life, natural lighting and other natural design elements in biophilic workspaces. So bring nature indoors with living walls or indoor hydroponic gardens.

To learn more about biophilic design, read this blog post:

Optimize indoor-outdoor spaces

According to health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), outdoor spaces are currently the safest place to gather. Allowing access to these spaces such as terraces, balconies, green spaces, etc. for formal and informal meetings will improve the well-being of employees.

Consider making these outdoor areas usable all year round with temporary and permanent structures, heating or cooling mechanisms or by adding a high-performance WIFI network. Also plan to install opening doors to blur the lines between inside and outside.

Integrating access to nature will increase the mental and emotional health of employees. Nature is also a great common denominator. Indeed, it allows everyone to feel everything that is similar: the sense of smell, sight, hearing and the ability to feel shade, sun and breeze.

Access to daylight and views

Access to daylight has proven effects on physical health. Sunlight provides a natural source of vitamin D, which reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain and other illnesses. Access to daylight can reduce depression and improve sleep patterns.

In a holistic workspace design, consider spacing and orienting workstations so that all employees can see daylight. For private or enclosed spaces, choose removable glass partitions that do not obstruct views and position these areas in the heart of the building to allow light to enter the workplace.

Maximize the use of natural light with skylights and light ducts that will transport and distribute natural light to rooms away from windows while minimizing light loss.

The holistic well-being of people

The health and well-being of employees will be at the heart of office space design and use. Indeed, the human factor will be emphasized in this new standard and managers will have to take into consideration the psychological and emotional condition of their employees. The working arrangements, being at the service of the work teams, will have to be rethought in order to meet the new needs. The well-being of individuals becomes a priority in order to establish a relationship of trust.

The changes brought about by this pandemic are prompting companies to live their values in a new and meaningful way. It is no longer enough to create workplaces that work, but now they must truly support the people who choose to go there.

Scale, proportion, color, density, lighting and planning all have an impact on people's mental and emotional state. The physical environment therefore has a significant impact on how users feel in a space.

Supporting holistic wellness therefore means integrating health into all aspects of the business, including all workspaces, which will need to be designed with empathy, biophilia and choice to maintain team commitment and productivity.

In conclusion

The holistic workplace will be an environment where comfort is as crucial as efficiency and where each individual has the opportunity to feel relaxed, safe, in harmony with nature and part of a community.

Want to know more about designing holistic workspaces? Contact the experts at Lib. and they will be able to advise you effectively.

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