Evolution of the Workspace: Putting People at the Center

Businesses increasingly are paying more attention to employee wellbeing. Workplace design not only considers physical health but emotional health as well. Furniture designers have taken the cubical concept and crafted systems that encourage sociality, privacy, and productivity. The recently established WELL certificate international building standard is an accreditation system that reflects this trend. The standard measures seven factors to determine how a building impacts the wellbeing of people inside it. Employers are recognizing that wellbeing involves the entire person and that wellbeing must take place all day.

This evolution could be seen at the most recent NeoCon in Chicago, where an assortment of new office concepts and designs displayed employee wellbeing. Steelcase Inc. rolled out is Brody WorkLounge, which it describes as a microenvironment “designed to be good for your body and good for your brain.” The Brody WorkLounge incorporates advanced ergonomics and includes a heated seat and back. Steelcase’s Ology height-adjustable table was also enhanced. The table uses sensors and reminds workers to periodically change desk height. Haworth Inc. offered new seating called the Fern task chair. The company states that design “puts the person at the center.” The Fern responds to the person using the chair, providing support and allowing for movement.

Businesses, more than ever, are investing in their greatest asset – the people. To do this, attention is given to the details of a space that considers employees’ mood, health and morale. This era of humanizing the work environment has lead to flexibility and functionality in furniture design that lends to both quiet and collaborative space. Wellbeing at work is getting office spaces where they were meant to be . . . adapting to the humans who work there.

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