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How to Improve Well-being at Work by Designing for Movement?

As work and workplaces are evolving, creating an environment that fosters employee well-being has become imperative. One key aspect of this equation is movement. Movement is intricately connected to all aspects of daily work life. Thus, the WELL Building Standard for Movement at Work promotes active physical activity in everyday life through environmental design, policies, and programs. This helps businesses to ensure that movement opportunities are integrated into the fabric of our culture, buildings, and communities.

WELL Building Standard for Movement at Work

WELL, the leading global building standard, focuses on the well-being of individuals within the built environment. Movement, one of its core concepts, recognizes the profound impact of physical activity on mental and physical health. This holistic approach enhances employee productivity, engagement, and overall quality of life.

Even though the benefits of regular physical activity are widely acknowledged, global data reveals that approximately 23% of the adult population still remains physically inactive. Therefore, the WELL Movement concept is designed to promote movement and discourage sedentary behavior at work by creating and enhancing opportunities within the spaces where we spend our lives.

Now that we’ve understood the WELL building standard for movement, let us have a look at its potential benefits:

Benefits of Designing for Active Movement at Work

benefits of Activity based workplaceImage Courtesy: FAB, Bangalore, Zyeta

Enhanced Employee Productivity

When workplaces are designed to encourage active movement, employees experience increased energy levels and improved focus. This leads to higher productivity, as employees can maintain their mental clarity and motivation throughout the workday. This heightened productivity directly contributes to the achievement of business goals and a more efficient work environment.

Reduced Absenteeism and Healthcare Costs

Active movement design promotes employee well-being, reducing the occurrence of health-related issues such as chronic diseases and mental health concerns. As a result, absenteeism decreases, and healthcare costs for the organization are lowered. This translates to significant savings and a healthier, more engaged workforce.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Businesses that prioritize employee well-being by offering a workspace designed for active movement can attract and retain top talent more effectively. Prospective employees seek out companies that demonstrate a commitment to their health and overall quality of life. A thoughtfully designed workplace enhances the organization’s reputation and helps it stand out in the competitive job market.

Increased Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Active movement design fosters a positive workplace culture where employees feel valued and empowered. They are more likely to engage in their work, collaborate with colleagues, and express higher job satisfaction. This leads to improved employee retention and a reduction in recruitment and training costs.

Designing for Active Movement

ABW-based planning
Activity based workplaceImage Courtesy: Multinational Fashion Brand, Bangalore, Zyeta

Activity-based working (ABW) aligns seamlessly with the WELL Building Standard for movement at work. ABW offers flexible work settings, ergonomic furniture, collaborative spaces, open floor plans, and walking meetings. It encourages employees to choose the most suitable work environment and promotes movement, productivity, and engagement.

Walking Paths
Office walking pathsImage Courtesy: Vanderlande, Pune, Zyeta

Incorporating walking paths within the office space is an effective strategy to promote movement. These paths are designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. By strategically placing inspiring artwork and motivational quotes along the paths, employees are not only encouraged to walk but are also provided with visual stimuli that enhance their experience. Walking paths can wind through different areas of the office, connecting workstations, communal spaces, and wellness zones. The presence of these paths makes it convenient for employees to stretch their legs and engage in short bursts of physical activity as they move from one area to another, ultimately contributing to a more active work environment.

Visual Cues for Movement

Visual cues are an essential aspect of designing for movement within the workplace. These cues include signage, floor markings, or any other visual elements that guide employees toward making movement-conscious choices. For instance, clear and appealing signage can direct individuals to use stairs instead of elevators, thereby encouraging them to incorporate stair climbing into their daily routine. Floor markings can indicate walking lanes or paths, reminding employees to move about the office regularly. These visual cues not only serve as practical reminders but also create a visual language that fosters a culture of movement within the workplace. They make it easier for employees to make health-conscious decisions throughout their workday, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being and productivity.

Staircase Integration
staircase sitting in office designImage Courtesy: Udaan, Bangalore, Zyeta

Staircase integration in workplace design is a strategy to encourage employee movement and well-being. It involves making stairs easily accessible, well-lit, and visually appealing. By positioning staircases strategically, improving lighting, and adorning them with artwork or motivational quotes, employees are more likely to choose stairs over elevators. This promotes physical activity, contributing to improved health and energy levels while reducing sedentary behavior. Staircase integration creates a culture that values well-being and movement within the workplace, benefiting both individuals and the organization.

Active workstations
Activity based workingImage Courtesy: WSP, Bangalore, Zyeta

Active workstations, including treadmill desks, stationary bikes with desks, and balance boards, offer employees the opportunity to work while engaging in light physical activity. These innovative solutions break the cycle of prolonged sitting, promoting movement and well-being in the workplace. Treadmill desks allow walking or jogging while working, stationary bikes encourage pedaling, and balance boards engage core muscles and improve posture. By incorporating active workstations, organizations foster a culture of movement, reduce the risks associated with sedentary behavior, and enhance employee health. These solutions are particularly effective for desk-bound roles, providing a practical means of incorporating physical activity into the daily work routine.

All in All

Prioritizing employee well-being is no longer a luxury but a necessity! Central to this quest is the fundamental element of movement. It’s a facet of daily life that touches every aspect of our work, and the WELL Building Standard for Movement in the workplace recognizes the pivotal role it plays. By integrating active physical activity into our daily routines through innovative design, policies, and programs, we create environments where movement isn’t just encouraged; it’s woven into the very fabric of our culture, our buildings, and our communities.

Stay tuned for more insights from our team of WELL APs, designers, and strategists. Our experts are committed to guiding you in your journey to create sustainable, efficient, and inclusive workplaces.

Get in touch with Zyeta’s WELL APs today and embark on a transformative journey towards well-being and performance excellence.

Related Reads:

3 Myths to be Busted Before Implementing an ABW Plan

The Correlation Between Design and Mental Wellbeing at Work

As both an Architect and Architectural Journalist, he thrives on building unique content, with words and thoughts--as his brick and mortar. A natural-born explorer, he puts no limits on things he's passionate about diving into, be it cuisines, cultures or books. An avid fiction reader and a chronic over-thinker, he still finds enough time to be happy-go-lucky and easy to approach.

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