Steve Jobs insisted that his offices be designed with the common areas far from the employee areas. He intentionally wanted his employees to have to walk across the building to get to the restrooms. He knew they would likely run into each other and have impromptu conversations that might lead to great ideas. Jobs saw this as a way to get great products from his employees but I don’t think he realized this would also make them healthier. It does.
Designing your office for activity can bring great advantages to your business. By providing options to occupants such as making stairs more obvious and appealing, they will choose to take them which will benefit their health and your business.
Encourage your employees to find ways to get more “NEAT” on a daily basis. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis*, which is an interesting occurrence in itself. It is a way to measure the little movements we do in our everyday routines such as going from sitting to standing or walking to the building because of parking farther away.
The amount of calories burned from taking the stairs instead of the elevator is jaw-dropping and as with any exercise, it can increase your metabolism! Now think of the advantages that alone can have. Better rates for your health insurance, less sick days, more energetic workers, etc. etc. Not to mention the collaboration that results from these activities!
Studies are being done on how building design can encourage physical activity. Mayor Bloomberg of NYC and the AIA released a 2010 study on this. You can read the entire 144 page report at http://centerforactivedesign.org. See “Active Design Guidelines”. Some of the more pertinent excerpts of interest to designers are listed in the 9 page attachment. Download now and enjoy: DesignForActivity
Using architecture and design to promote activity and health is definitely a plus but when considering it also promotes collaboration, it becomes a no-brainer.
*”Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT.“