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How healthy is your office building?


Quality of Life Observer

- Apr 3 2014

The health of an office building can span a wide spectrum – some are in fine form, some are just getting by and others are downright sick. The quality of life effects of a building in poor health can spread throughout a company like a bad cold.


The basics aren’t enough

The health of the buildings we live and work in plays a vital role in our overall health and wellbeing – especially considering that the average office employee spends 90% of waking hours indoors. While many companies focus on basic health and safety issues, they do so on a largely reactive approach.

Prioritizing proper ventilation, cleaner air and more stable humidity control can vastly improve the health of a building as well as its occupants. Companies can benefit from focus on promoting health rather than simply reducing disease. Truly health centered buildings take into account how employees perceive, behave and cope with environmental stressors by “designing-out” potential hazards while also “designing-in” wellbeing benefits.

Lighten up

 

Employees of Baltimore Medical System Healthy Living Center discovered the impact a healthy building has on overall quality of life when their company relocated to a newly designed space. The blank canvas that the move created allowed for several quality of life factors to be purposefully designed into the new space.

Workers in the newer, healthier building reported an increase in morale, motivation and productivity – which they linked to increased natural daylight. In terms of quality of life improvements, the addition of outdoor views positively affected attitude and stress levels and even made employees feel more valued by their company.

Quiet down

Research has linked excessive commotion in the office with reduced cognitive performance, a lower ability to recall information and decreased creativity – with chitchat ranking among the highest on the list of annoying noise. In addition to distracting workers, noise can also increase epinephrine levels and cause increased physical strain.

While the consequences can be serious, reducing excess noise can be quite simple. One inexpensive design tip is as simple as adding plants to absorb excess noise.

Bringing the outside in

Plants affects building health on many other levels as well. From a comfort perspective, plants increase the relative humidity in offices and reduce levels of pollutant gases and airborne dust. The presence of plants in office has also been linked to increased productivity, lower blood pressure and increased staff wellbeing.

When is the last time your building had a check-up?

 

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How healthy is your office building?

The health of an office building can span a wide spectrum – some are in fine form, some are just getting by and others are downright sick. The quality of life effects of a building in poor health can spread throughout a company like a bad cold.

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