We are a firm that places a high value on designing buildings and spaces that promote and support healthy living. To put more of a framework around what has always been one of our guiding principles, Karin became an ambassador of The Fitwel System last year.
The Fitwel System is described by the organization behind it as “the World’s Leading Certification System that Optimizes Buildings to Support Health.” Researched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and piloted nationwide by the U.S. government’s General Services Administration (GSA) in 2015, the program was launched in early 2017.
As part of embracing the Fitwel philosophy, we used the organization’s scorecard to rank our own office. The results showed that we had plenty of room for improvement, as we scored 86 out of a possible 144 points and fell short of earning a 1-star ranking. Well, improve we have, and soon we will be applying for certification.
We hope and expect to be certified soon, but either way, the process of working toward meeting the Fitwel System standards has been very enlightening. Our team now knows so much more about what makes up a healthy work environment.
Strategies for Getting Healthy in the Office
Making it easier for employees to get and stay healthy not only benefits them individually, it helps the organization as well. Here are a few tips for improving your work environment and operations:
- Hold walking meetings. We’ve all become conditioned to think of a meeting as taking place in an enclosed space seated around a table. But, there’s no reason it has to. Getting outside and walking while you talk can infuse a meeting with new energy and promote more creative thinking, all while promoting heart health.
- Promote the use of standing desks and under desk steppers. It is said that sitting is the new smoking in terms of its negative impact on our health. Anything we can do to get out our seats and moving more is a great idea.
- Provide or encourage healthy snacks. There is no question that what we eat impacts how we feel and the quality of the work we do. Focusing on healthy snacks is good for our health and for our businesses.
- Make proper hydration easy. One of the recommendations on the Fitwel scorecard is to have water bottle fillers readily available. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of the “late day fade” that so many of us feel in the afternoon.
- Help people get to know the area. Sometimes all people need to get out and walk to nearby restaurants, shops, and other businesses is a little reminder that they are there! An area amenities map that shares Walk Score information and is posted prominently can be that reminder.
Small Changes. Big Impact.
What our pursuit of Fitwel System certification has made apparent to us is just how many little ways there are to make a workplace more healthy. We’re fortunate at Patriquin Architects to be close to a riverside park, restaurants, and other amenities. But getting out of the office and taking advantage of those perks requires a commitment and establishing a habit. The same is true of the healthy changes we have made, and continue to make, in our office.
Ultimately, you don’t have to plan and execute wholesale changes to your physical space or your processes to see improvement. Small changes implemented over time can have a very big and positive impact.
If you have questions about how the design of your building or office is impacting the health and wellness of your staff, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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