Considering the numerous changes all around us during the pandemic, it has become necessary to keep ourselves informed about the newer dimensions. Be it about the changes in life at home or the reformed aspects of workplace life. While the former one depends greatly on individual strategies, the latter one is a group effort that we all need to be making. To guide us and make us learn about this new phase of work-life and workplace design, we have with us, Tanvi Kesarwani, a WELL AP, reflecting on the different aspects of workplace wellness with her expert views.
1. Tanvi, tell us about the newer dimensions of workplace wellness that are coming to the forefront post-COVID-19.
The pandemic has rewired us in ways that health and wellness are of topmost priority in every field. Which should have always been! But the factors are dominating particularly in workplace design, as offices will have to transform to build trust in their employees. If I were to enlist these newer aspects of workplace design, they would be like:
- Prioritizing health and safety through-Health and safety ratings, Well certification
- Enhance HVAC throughout offices
- Third-party verifications for services in a facility to limit the exposure
- Deep cleaning policies and protocols and make sure they are followed meticulously by all the concerned staff
- Designing spaces keeping in mind the standards like physical distancing, touchless technologies, maintainability, and accessibility.
- Emergency response plan for unprecedented challenges
- Freedom to work from anywhere to give the employees a liberal state of mind to work as per their convenience
- Committing to wellness promotion in every aspect of work
- Enhancing access to nature during work hours.
2. Is the design principle changing during these times? If yes, how?
-A definite “Yes”.
While struggling through the pandemic, we have understood the importance of health and wellness. Therefore, workplace design should have a more human-centric approach now, to keeping wellbeing as a prime responsibility. Previously, offices were crowded with more number of people in a limited area, but at this hour, we require to de-densify the spaces, especially workspaces to be mindful about distancing and flexibility of employees. Now designers will also pay more attention to technologies that can work hand in hand with the design. For example, introducing touchless technologies and integrating them from the first stage of workplace design. Also, last but not the least, nature should play a big role in design principle. For workplaces, this will be more about bringing in natural light and air inside the office premises.
3. Besides handwashing, what are the immediate steps to maintain hygiene and wellness at work?
Handwashing is a preliminary step to fight against infections. However, there are several steps that are required to maintain the wellness quotient in workplace design. Here are some of those requirements.
- Maintaining a top-notch air and water quality
- Reconfiguration of meeting rooms to avoid gatherings
- Preparedness for emergencies to make sure employees are always ready for such changes in the future
- Awareness to the occupants about company policies to make sure they have all the right information
- Cleanliness strategies to be relooked and made more stringent
- Training of staff for the usage of cleaning products in the right manner and quantity
- Usage of disinfectants for cleaning of green/eco-labeled products.
- Foot-operated/touchless doors, faucets access to be reconfigured
- Multiple sanitization points to make sure help is at every corner
4. As a WELL AP, what are the pivotal changes you are expecting in the impending future of office design?
While wellness has always been an integral design factor for me, but for the current times, I hope it is prioritized. I hope people start understanding the importance of investing in the health of employees. I think this is the most crucial time to reconfigure and redefine spaces with extra emphasis on the importance of air quality by introducing well-configured HVAC with a good combination of filters and UVGI lamps. I expect more emphasis on design that promotes mental health, i.e., usage of the right quality products during construction to keep the wellbeing factor intact. I expect offices to redefine employee experience by providing the utmost importance to their health and safety.
5. Can an existing office apply for WELL certification? If yes, what would be the strategies that such an office can take up?
Yes, an existing office can apply for WELL certification. In simple words, here are the steps that such an organization can take up for WELL certification.
-Hire a team of architects and well consultants who can help you define health goals.
-Primarily, the goal will be to improve air and water testing procedures to ensure quality.
-Little refurbishments could be required depending upon the type of materials used
-Sound testing for ensuring the right acoustics.
-Some modifications in companies’ policies promoting good health through proper ergonomics, mentorship programs, etc.
6. What is the role of workplace design in the health and emotional security of employees?
A human spends 90% of the times indoor, so addressing the indoor environment is the key to occupant’s health. From a design aspect, attention must be paid on a variety of spaces like quiet zones, collaborative zones, meditation zones, green areas, etc. from the concept stage till the completion stage of any workspace. The specifications of products used for construction and most importantly, the quality of air, water, food, and ergonomics play major roles in physical and mental security of employees. With a holistic approach that addresses the design, maintenance, and operations, a space becomes coherent. Therefore, a healthy workspace is a home to happy employees which ultimately caters to their emotional security.
7. Explain to us briefly how Zyeta is taking up wellbeing in workplace design?
-Zyeta is a thought leader in the industry, pioneering in the health and well-being design approach. At Zyeta, we have a group of professionals who are WELL AP’s and a research team which is updated with the new and advanced trends in the industry. Our inhouse HVAC team has a detailed knowledge of designing the services to the maximum of their efficiencies to deliver the best quality air and thermal comfort. By default, we try to incorporate WELL standards in the space. The team keeps on visiting/attending sessions that keep them updated with the latest shifts in paradigms. Zyeta aims at delivering more and more healthy workspaces in the coming times.
A quote on workplace wellness from you.
An investment in people is the most important asset for any organization.