Blog Wellness in the Workspace - Ideapaint collaborative workspace

Wellness & Well-being Deconstructed

Wellness is all the craze right now across the globe, it’s our industry’s new sexy buzz word!

What happened to collaboration, sustainability, acoustics or ergonomics? Would you believe it, it’s all of that and a bag of chips! 😉

Why all the talk about Wellness?

There is a ton of statistics on the cost of poor ergonomics. Below are just a few of the many stats that highlight the impact of ergonomics on our work environment :

  • The average work related injuries easily totals $ 100,000 in lost time, & compensation costs.
  • In 2012, Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) , accounted for 437000 out of the 1,073,000 reported work related illnesses in the UK.
  • Companies receive $3 for every $1 invested in improving office ergonomics due to gains in productivity.
  • Worker productivity improves by 11% when ergonomic furniture is used.

This brought about the rise of Ergonomic standards, accessories and the like as a preventative measure or a delay at best to assist with a growing problem, we are all tied to our desks / devices.

During this period, the world also realized that they were depleting their resources at an alarming rate and needed to slow it down or face imminent doom. Enter Environmental Standards from the USGBC (US Green Building Council). LEED being the most prevalent one (or well marketed) across the globe addressed this concern as buildings were responsible for 80% of the resource drain. They addressed multiple facets of a building including the land & its proximity, energy, air water & materials amongst other things.

Technology accelerated, our behaviour patterns evolved and continue to do so to match how we consume and share information. This made distraction a primary problem in workplaces. Also known as Engagement / Presenteeism / Absenteeism and the like.

As you can imagine all of the above affected productivity which affects the bottom line!

This paved the way for a new certification that addressed the 3E’s together. The WELL Building Standard.

What is the WELL Building Standard?

The WELL Building Standard is founded on the understanding that facets of our environment interact with personal, genetic and behavioral factors to shape our overall health and well-being. WELL recognizes that many behaviors are subconsciously dictated by external cues, and thus it carefully considers interactions between humans and the built environment that shape not only our physical health but also our behavior.


The WELL Building Standard is organized into seven categories of wellness called Concepts:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Fitness
  6. Comfort
  7. Mind

The above seven concepts are comprised of 102 features currently that are attributed to the human body systems. The certification considers each features impacts on the following body systems:

  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive System
  • Endocrine System
  • Immune System
  • Integumentary System
  • Muscular System
  • Nervous System
  • Reproductive System
  • Respiratory System
  • Skeletal System
  • Urinary System

Like every certification, there are levels to achieve: Silver, Gold or Platinum

Unlike other certifications however the scorecard aggregates your total in each of the seven concepts to provide you with you achieve level.

An example of a Gold certification is shown below:

Blog Wellbeing in the Workspace - Wellbeing Gold Certification Feature

For in depth feature analysis and methodology, download the Well Being Standards by Clicking Here

How do I address wellness and increase productivity without getting certified?

Understanding that wellness and productivity is centred around one key subject – People and their needs. Knoll (a furniture manufacturer) likened wellbeing to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to workplace needs:

Blog Wellbeing in the Workspace - Maslows-Heirarchy-of-Needs

Image Source: Knoll

The aim is to address the base of the pyramid and working your way up which in turn will affect the following factors:


  • Reduce Presenteeism (is the act of attending work while sick)
  • Reduce Absenteeism (is an employee’s intentional or habitual absence from work)
  • Increase Engagement (is one employee who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.)

Can we address each level of the pyramid in relation to work spaces?

Physiological – Physical Health & Comforts

Biophilia the affinity of human beings for other life forms – Design for visual access to daylight and outdoors & Incorporate plants throughout the workplace

Ensure physical comfort

Acoustic – Use sound masking or sound absorbing materials & Provide pods or quiet rooms for retreat and concentration

Ergonomics – Encourage movement and activity by centralizing commonly used resources like printers, trash cans etc. Providing Fitness options a variety of different work surface heights among many options.

Workplace policies – Promote a healthy lifestyle by conducting wellness training, discouraging overworking offering healthy food options on site.

Security, Safety & Stability

Ergonomics – Provide holistic ergonomics support through certified chairs, accessories including monitor arms, keyboard supports and task lights to ease eye strain.

Environment – Eliminate dangers and toxins Use low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials & non-toxic, hypoallergenic cleaners

Access: Design for personal and information security by providing key-card access systems, lockable storage and securing electronic devices

Workplace policies: Provide workspace safety and ergonomics training. Establish governance that ensures fair and equitable treatment. Offer alternative work locations & flexible schedules, Discourage employees from coming to work sick. Create a culture of safety by practicing for emergencies, encourage reporting on potential threats and holding safety awareness events

Belonging – Relationships & Connections

Collaboration: Make it easy for people to connect with each other by providing technology tools and touchdown and gathering spaces ranging for different applications that include cafes to promote chance encounters or movable writeable surfaces to support informal meetings

Brand: Use the interior design to display your brand vision and culture which this reinforces your team’s connection to the organization

Workplace policies: Create a sense of community by recognizing team accomplishments, encouraging mutual trust and respect, provide diversity training, respecting time zone differences. Connect individual goals to the broader vision and regularly review their performance.

Esteem: Self-Worth & Respect

Design spaces to build rapport and trust by including employees in the workplace design process and addressing different work zones through color, texture, materials, lighting and graphics to engage senses & incorporate glass walls to reinforce transparency.

Workplace policies: Provide opportunities for personal growth by providing mentorship and continual skills training. Endorse transparency by making it safe for employees to express concerns and fostering a “do the right thing” mindset. Gathering and acting on feedback through engagement surveys.

Self Actualization – Purpose & Meaning

Choice and Autonomy through a variety of workspace types, furnishing and accessories that allow personalization and eliminate entitlement-based provisioning

Workplace policies: Embrace a higher purpose by encouraging social good through volunteer work, offering career diversion and eliminating hierarchy.

How do I get started?

  • Recruit Wellness Champions, these are employees that will help execute the strategy of implementation.
  • Executive level commitment, get the C-suite level committed to this change
  • Gather the workplace needs and create a list of goals & objectives.
  • Execute the strategy through practicing, communicating and leading by example
  • Periodically evaluate the goals and measure the successes and opportunities setting the path to continual change toward well-being

The Total Office provides work space solutions focusing on ergonomic and collaborative products that meet global environmental standards.

“Creating your work experience using ours”