IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 12
Developing The Roadmap
One of the central questions of the weekend was: "How can
workplace well-being be improved via targeted design
interventions?" Participants wanted to develop a "roadmap"
for this purpose. Everyone agreed that sustainable elements,
healthy materials, and active-design features like standingonly conference rooms were being adopted with some
frequency, but there was also a hunger for more evocative
and holistic solutions. Designers and manufacturers identified
various features- from focus rooms to thoughtful site
selection-and discussed arenas of environment-behavior
research that could inform more novel strategies.
Well-being in the workplace is best supported by a variable,
active, evolving interior with a balance of carefully tailored
open-plan and focus areas. These spaces are complex to
envision and execute, requiring expert help and protracted
and thoughtful planning, and require a varied work landscape
that supports a company's unique needs-making the role
of the designer even more critical.
1. EMBARK on comprehensive programming
Critical to addressing well-being is a generous
programming phase, which designers should be
prepared to fight for, arguing in favor of elements
and features they know will work best
for a particular company.
The programming process is unique to the interior
design industry and designers' competitive
advantage. Designers develop a very intimate
relationship with their clients to figure out who
they are, what their culture is, and what they
truly need. Practitioners should better promote
themselves as human- behavior experts deeply
knowledgeable about society and culture,
about how humans behave, act, and react
in an interior space.
2. BALANCE open and enclosed spaces
Design open offices the right way by attending
to acoustics, providing ample opportunities for
visual and aural privacy, and increasing the ratio
of "me" to "we" space. Open-plan environments are
a reality for a majority of clients who want them
because of real-estate costs, but there are also
myriad advantages to well-executed spaces, from
improved collaboration to increased transparency
and a sense of community. Implement variability
and focus areas, and embrace smart programming
and change management.
3. LET behavior drive structure
Orthogonal floor plates often equate to an overreliance on cubicles and benching systems...which can
make employees feel like rats in a maze. As Kent
Reyling, Director of Market Education at Kimball
Office, said: "Let's move from environments that
house people to environments that serve people."
4. BRING the outdoors in
There is ample data touting the health and financial benefits of spaces designed with biophilic
touches, such as views of-and direct access to-
the outdoors. Maximizing daylight will become
an increasing priority, especially in stairwells
and active zones.
5. DESIGN with human nature in mind
More and more designers are tapping into environment-behavior research that reveals what spatial
attributes induce stress or calm, based on how
humans evolved in the wild.
Simple tweaks can make a difference, such as
allowing employees opportunities to personalize
their work space, ensuring the ability to switch a
task light on or off, or using single benching rows
where everyone faces the same way (versus each
6. CREATE spaces that evolve
One solution is to create spaces that change. "Even
something as simple as adjusting the lighting level
catches people off guard in a good way, changing
their experience," advocated James Williamson,
FIIDA, LEED AP, ID+C, IIDA Vice President.