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17


VIEW POINT


Following the recent Stress Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Week, Charles Bettes of architects and interior designers gpad delves deeper into the importance of good design in “optimising the workplace for our mutual good”


2018-19. The research reveals that mental health problems are not unusual in the workplace, and the charity emphasises it is crucial that organisations now make staff wellbeing a priority. Workplace cultures aside, the spaces that we work in have a great impact, and there is much that we as architects and designers can do to employ great design.


M What drives wellbeing?


Several factors can be attributed to this. Awareness of the importance of prioritising workforce wellbeing is increasing among companies, as past research clearly demonstrates how it improves productivity and therefore profits. Employers are also beginning to recognise that they have responsibilities towards their staff. Today’s workers also know to be more demanding, being aware of what their office could be and the effects of their environment on their mental and physical health.


Demand for healthy buildings –


an opportunity From a developer’s perspective, wellbeing measures are an essential part of meeting their brief to stay competitive in the market. Investing more money in developing a strong design at the early stages of a project will almost guarantee that a developer reaps greater commercial rewards further down the line, be this for better lighting conditions, effective acoustics, or optimum air quality. The knock-on effects from a healthier building are significant – happier, healthier occupants mean lower staff turnover and increased productivity. We should see this as a great opportunity to produce better buildings for all of us,


ADF JUNE 2019


rather than an unwanted challenge. Debates that we were having not that long ago around whether amenities such as cycle stores, showers, lockers and roof terraces are provided are now provided as a given, as they should be. And we’re discussing other considerations to encourage more active and fulfilling lifestyles and how they can be incorporated into our working lives, and the buildings we produce.


Making the physical workplace more appealing to workers is beneficial to developers and agents alike. There are numerous ways to achieve this; some offices install anything from bars and cafes to slides and mini golf, and recreational spaces are increasingly needed, in an age where the boundary between life and work is blurred.


Tech to serve our needs Healthy buildings are increasingly ‘smart’ buildings too. Yet, while investing in integrating technology into a building, we need to be mindful that it may have a design shelf life. Architects and designers have to carefully assess technology and see will it make people’s lives better or is it just a shiny new toy. The purpose of technology, after all, is to improve our lives rather than to be fetishised. It’s crucial to create spaces that are adaptable and allow for flexibility and ease of implementation in years to come. Yet the spaces need to accommodate all the ways in which we work today, with co-working environments, private spaces, break out areas and cafes.


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


ental health charity Mind recently published their third annual Workplace Wellbeing Index for


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