Can Your Office Design Lower Your Health Insurance Costs?
Health insurance is on everybody’s mind, and insurance companies keep telling us that the healthier we are, the less we’ll pay for health insurance. Every employer has an interest in maintaining employees’ health – healthy employees are productive employees – but if your business provides health insurance as an employee benefit, you have a strong direct interest in boosting employee health and lowering your insurance premiums.
Office interiors were traditionally laid out with the goal of keeping workers at their desks, with everything close at hand so there was no wasted transit time. Now we know that sitting for hours is a significant health risk. If you have a traditional office interior, here are some changes recommended by Milliken that will transform your business into an active workplace.
- Separate your break facilities from heads-down work areas. Centrally located break rooms and restrooms may be convenient, but if they’re located in an out-of-the-way area, your team members get the benefit of more exercise. Additionally, they (and you) will have more opportunities for valuable cross-pollination of ideas – the “water cooler” effect.
- Make the collaborative areas a destination. If your team’s daily activities frequently switch from solo work to group work, make sure they have to go further to collaborate. More steps means better health.
- Windows work wonders. Maximizing natural light will regulate your employees’ natural circadian rhythms, making them more productive and helping them sleep better at night…so they’re more productive tomorrow, too.
- Install height-adjustable workstations. A University of Iowa study found that workers burned up to 485 extra calories per week if they had height-adjustable workstations. Over time, that adds up to some significant weight loss, and some significant health benefits.
- Control indoor noise pollution. Now that your team is moving around the office, up and down the corridors, hard-surface floors are suddenly creating an acoustic overload. Sound-absorbent flooring will let people work undisturbed by the increased foot traffic.
When you’re remodeling your current offices, or moving into new office space, talk to a design professional about an active design. They’ll be able to specify the furnishings and storage systems that promote physical activity and health, such as:
- Centralized space-efficient mobile file storage which ensures staff will walk to get the files they need.
- Bicycle storage that encourages employees to ride to work.
- Adaptable furnishings which change from sitting desk to standing desk, as well as reconfiguring from collaborative space to solo workstation.
Green furnishings, flex hours, bicycle commuting, step counters – there are a host of options for improving the health of your workforce. Add some thoughtful interior design to the mix, and you could enjoy the profits of a healthy and highly productive workforce.
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