Dec 05, 2018

How Commercial Design Can Improve Employee Health

By Holly Welles

How Commercial Design Can Improve Employee Health
Guest blog by Holly Welles. Holly is a real estate blogger interested in the ever-shifting landscape of the market. You can read more of her work on her own blog, The Estate Update, and follow her on Twitter @HollyAWelles.

A company is only as healthy as its employees. Without a strong and motivated workforce to support the goals and aspirations of its leadership, progress begins to slow, frustration begins to grow and morale plummets to unsustainable levels. But amendments to commercial property design can help counter the problem.


Smart commercial design has proven value in affecting the mood of employees. In this article, we'll detail three ways an adjustment to commercial design can dramatically improve employee health. Any property can make a few changes that improve the environment for all inhabitants.


1. Strategic Lighting

Building new windows into an existing commercial property isn't practical. Or, at least, it isn't cheap. Management still has solutions to improve natural lighting, however, and it often takes little more than a rearrangement of office furniture within the workspace to make the most of what's already available.


To take some of the gloom from the rooms around an office, management should reconfigure their floor plan to uncover any blocked windows. Cubicles with high walls will sometimes cause an obstruction, simply solved through dropping the partitions. With this slight correction, an employee's workspace will feel completely different. By extension, they'll feel different too.


No worker wants to spend eight hours hunched over their desk with nothing but the ceiling's old fluorescent tubes to illuminate their station. Poor lighting is one of the most debilitating elements of bad commercial design, but it's simple to fix — and it's also inexpensive. Through changing the more flexible elements of a commercial property, achieving a healthy balance is possible.


2. Improved Ventilation

To an employee with severe allergies, a workspace with substandard ventilation can prove enormously challenging. They'll try again and again to focus on work, staring at their screen with watery eyes as they tend to a runny nose. Naturally, this inhibits their productivity in a significant way.


It's not only employees with severe allergies, either. "Occupational allergies" like chemicals in the carpet, paint or furniture can all cause a reaction in workers who would otherwise enjoy a clear head. Rashes and other physical symptoms distract them from their duties and diminish their morale.


One easy way to improve air quality in the office is to introduce more greenery. Not only is a green office more pleasing to the eye, indoor plants give off oxygen and help head off some of these health concerns. If all else fails, air purifiers will help employees breathe a little easier.


3. Ergonomic Options

Many office employees may spend a significant amount of their workday sitting at a desk. To promote a healthier workplace, commercial design should incorporate options that allow employees greater flexibility and mobility in their workstations.


There are several of these ergonomic options in commercial design. Even items as simple as keyboard trays and monitor rises can have an impact on workplace health issues like eye strain and fatigue. Allowing an employee to adjust his or her workspace is an inexpensive part of commercial design, but benefits both productivity and health.


The most popular of ergonomic trends, of course, is the standing desk. Employees who substitute periods of sedentary work with standing can reduce the health risks of high blood sugar, obesity and heart disease. To accommodate more health-conscious workers, managers can create standing work stations or opt for adjustable desks for each employee.


4. Healthy Employees Are Happy Employees

The quality of work an employee produces is often related to the quality of their workspace. If the workspace is dim, stale and gray, it'll reflect in their performance. But if the workspace takes advantage of natural lighting, air purification systems and increased movement, everyone benefits. 


That said, some of the suggestions above are easier to implement than others. Management or commercial property owners might not have the means to make all of these changes to an office, so take the time to ask what would be best for current employees and prioritize suggested improvements.


After all, healthy employees are happy employees. Smart commercial design is the blueprint for success.


Here are a few other articles you might enjoy:

Six Ways to Make Any Office Into a Green Office

Top 4 Ways to Navigate a Changing CRE Market

5 Reasons Why Lighting Can Make or Break Your Office Space


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Holly Welles

Holly Welles

Holly Welles is a real estate blogger interested in the ever-shifting landscape of the market. You can read more of her work on her own blog, The Estate Update, and follow her on Twitter @HollyAWelles.