6 Ways to Improve Worker Health and Productivity Through Building and Office Design

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People spend much of their time inside a modern structure of some sort. These spaces provide a controlled environment where people are free to go about their business. It’s not always apparent, but buildings and cities exert a subtle influence on our behavior and well-being. If you employ an architect or workplace designer, you have the power to make a huge difference in the everyday lives of people who will be living and working inside these spaces. Here are six key areas for improvement which you can focus on:

Physical activity

When adults spend 90% of their time indoors, any change that can bring increased physical activity will have a considerable impact. Most people in the modern world have sedentary patterns at home and in the workplace. You can use architecture and office layout to improve the health and spirit of your workforce. Planning an open, clutter-free space with engaging features such as steel stair design can encourage people to explore, interact, and burn up to 50% more calories each day.

Indoor air quality

Our indoor spaces also directly influence the quality of the air we breathe most of the day. Workers exposed to poor air quality call in sick more often, leading to lost productivity. Studies have also linked increased ventilation to better cognitive function. By improving and maintaining workplace ventilation, you can create a more efficient, healthy, and comfortable working environment.

Thermal control

Properly controlled indoor temperature is desirable for the improved energy efficiency of offices and buildings, better comfort and health of occupants, and has also been shown to boost worker productivity. In the face of today’s changing and unpredictable climate patterns, having good heating and air conditioning systems in place is essential to a sustainable and healthy workplace.


Material selection in every area of the workplace can also influence the behavior and well-being of its occupants. When you make the effort to select furniture that provides better ergonomics or more playful, expressive colors and patterns to accent the office, it communicates to employees that their comfort and creativity are valued. At the same time, being more deliberate about material choices will help you avoid mold-forming or cancer-inducing materials, and improve sustainability.

Natural light

Office lounge with natural lighting

Several studies have suggested a strong link between increased exposure to natural light and improved health and productivity for workers. If your workplace maximizes the available daylight, employees will be in sync with the natural circadian rhythm and have better sleep cycles. This may be one reason why effective lighting design translates to up to 23% better productivity, with fewer headaches and other symptoms of the so-called “sick building syndrome.”

Green design

Increasing our exposure to nature is a great way to boost mental health, which translates to a happier, more creative and productive workforce. By bringing green plants and other natural landscape elements inside your buildings, you give occupants that wonderful sense of being close to nature while also helping to reduce indoor pollutants. Indoor plants can be positioned near individual workstations to bring those benefits closer to each employee on a daily basis.

When you’re in a position to influence the first-time design or renovation of an office building, it’s vital to make full use of the space’s potential to improve the quality of life and daily activity for its occupants. Consider these six ways as a starting point to making that positive change happen.


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