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Good Office Design Reduces the Hidden Costs of Healthcare

Good Office Design Reduces the Hidden Costs of Healthcare

Whereas healthcare spending could seem unmanageable, decreasing the “hidden costs” of healthcare is beneath your management.

Designed to advertise well being and wellness and foster a connection between staff and the pure setting, the OluKai HQ options earth tones, exterior views, pure lighting and parts corresponding to Parota wooden slabs and hand-knotted rope. Picture courtesy of H. Hendy Associates.

It’s no secret that the value of healthcare in the U.S. continues to rise yr after yr. It’s the nation’s largest business by gross home product (GDP) and is projected to rise 5.5 % annually. The truth is, healthcare prices are anticipated to succeed in $5.7 trillion by 2026, making up 20 % of the nation’s GDP.

For a lot of U.S. employers, healthcare prices symbolize the fastest-growing and second-largest working expense after worker wages. Immediately, corporations nationwide spend $18,000 per worker on annual healthcare bills, and that is anticipated to double by 2030. So, what can employers do to attenuate prices?

Whereas healthcare spending could seem unmanageable, decreasing the “hidden costs” of healthcare is beneath your management. Hidden prices embrace worker disengagement, turnover, and lack of productiveness. When designed successfully to help and bolster worker well being and wellness, the bodily working setting can scale back prices. Based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, this value discount can attain $1,685 yearly per worker.

By specializing in the following 4 key drivers of U.S. healthcare prices, design strategists will help companies create employee-centric and wholesome office environments that improve productiveness, happiness, and retention.

Bodily Inactivity

Staff live extra sedentary life than ever earlier than. Bodily inactivity in the office can negatively have an effect on the temper, focus, and productiveness of staff members. It will possibly even result in persistent illnesses. To advertise office well being and wellness, contemplate incorporating the following design methods in the workplace:

  • Sit-Stand Desks: Analysis exhibits that standing whereas working—even for 30 minutes at a time—can have a serious impression on well being. Advantages embrace decreased again ache, decrease danger of coronary heart illness, much less weight achieve and weight problems, decrease blood-sugar ranges, improved temper, and better ranges of power. Many companies are integrating sit-stand desks to allow staff to alternate between sitting and standing all through the day. Some employers are utilizing automated sit-stand know-how to encourage staff to take a seat, stand, and transfer all at the similar time, making it a group effort moderately than a person selection.
  • Stair Use: Taking the stairs can present vital rewards for each employers and staff. Stair climbing is an efficient but brief burst of exercise that will increase coronary heart and lung capability and burns extra energy than jogging. When designing an workplace format, think about incorporating a centrally situated staircase with pure lighting, distinctive paintings, and music. To encourage stair use, place infographics and signage close by to advertise the well being advantages.
  • Strolling Conferences: Encourage staff to show their conference-room conferences into collaborative and interesting strolling conferences. Shifting conferences not solely permit staff to combine bodily exercise into their workday, however this sort of motion additionally improves power ranges, sparks inspiration, and allows staff to reinforce private connections.

To encourage staff to take the stairs whereas touring between flooring at Easterseals, the firm’s Irvine HQ includes a skylight-lit staircase full with terrariums and pictures. Picture courtesy of H. Hendy Associates.

Stress Administration

In response to The American Institute of Stress, almost 80 % of all U.S. staff endure from stress and nervousness whereas on the job. Stress considerably impacts well being, and work-related stress is presently costing employers as much as $300 billion a yr on account of accidents, absenteeism, and worker turnover, along with medical, authorized, and insurance coverage charges. Whereas stress is usually brought on by job calls for, a poorly designed work setting could be a contributing issue. To scale back stress and stress-related healthcare prices, companies ought to think about implementing the following design methods:

  • Acoustics: One of the most necessary elements in workplace design is noise mitigation. From telephones to equipment to conversations, disruptive noises have an effect on focus and productiveness. Research present that extreme noise contributes to emphasize, fatigue, and poor cognitive efficiency. To attenuate noise distraction, think about putting in sound obstacles, utilizing white-noise machines, or incorporating sound-absorbing supplies like carpet, window coverings, and soundproofing insulation. For extremely targeted work, supply enclosed workplaces and workstations. 
  • Biophilia: Biophilic design, the infusion of direct and oblique pure parts into the constructed setting, helps fulfill our intuition to attach with nature. This holistic strategy to design provides many well being advantages from reducing stress and decreasing coronary heart charges and blood strain ranges to selling creativity and boosting general psychological and bodily well-being. Examples of biophilic design embrace daylight, crops, pure air flow, and water parts.
  • Stress-Administration Seminars: As analysis continues to spotlight the results of worker stress on an organization’s backside line, stress-management packages and seminars have grow to be extra fashionable. By way of stress-management methods, instruments, assets, and coaching, staff are studying to beat business-related stress, and in flip, corporations are benefitting from decreased stress-related bills.

To extend alternatives for focus and productiveness, the workplace area at Easterseals features a selection of small, enclosed workspaces full with snug seating, heat lighting and vibrant photographs of pure parts. Picture courtesy of H. Hendy Associates.

Tobacco Use

The CDC Basis stories that cigarette smoking amongst U.S. adults has declined greater than 50 % over the final 50 years; nevertheless, almost 20 % of the U.S. workforce nonetheless smokes cigarettes, exposing nonsmokers to second-hand smoke and costing companies $5.6 billion in misplaced productiveness. The next methods might help scale back tobacco-related well being points and related prices:

  • Talk the Dangers: Improve consciousness of tobacco-related well being dangers by displaying infographics all through the office and leveraging know-how to teach staff about the hazards of first-, second-, and third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke, a comparatively new idea, is residual nicotine from smoke left on indoor surfaces (i.e., furnishings, partitions, carpets, and so forth.). Touching contaminated surfaces or inhaling the off-gassing from these surfaces can expose staff to dangerous chemical compounds.
  • Smoke-Free Zones: In case your office shouldn’t be tobacco-free, think about establishing smoke-free zones to scale back publicity to second- and third-hand smoke in addition to emissions from e-cigarettes and different digital nicotine units. This consists of putting in “No Smoking” or “Tobacco-Free” indicators at workplace entrances and on walkways. Smoke-free zones ought to embrace indoor areas (even these enclosed or ventilated), areas outdoors and close to constructing entrances, and inside all work automobiles.
  • Prohibit Smoking: A tobacco-free office is a safer and more healthy work surroundings that reduces direct healthcare prices for employers. Smoke-free work environments additionally scale back the danger of fires and renovations; improve the risk for companies to barter for decrease life, incapacity and well being protection; and in the long term, can save on constructing upkeep prices. Analysis exhibits that corporations permitting on-site smoking spend almost $728 extra per 1,000 sq. ft in annual workplace upkeep than corporations with smoke-free environments.

The workplace area at Behr Paint Firm options two historic roads– Pacific Coast Freeway and Route 66 – encouraging employees to maneuver all through the workspace whereas nodding to the firm’s California roots. Picture courtesy of H. Hendy Associates.

Meals Decisions and Portion Management

Increasingly more companies are offering staff with entry to cafeterias, absolutely stocked kitchens, and complimentary drinks and snacks as an worker profit. Knowledge exhibits that food-related perks can enhance worker morale and assist hold staff energized, snug, and on-site longer. Accordingly, employers ought to be sure that the meals they supply has satisfactory dietary worth with low quantities of sodium and refined grains.

Why ought to employers care? Healthcare prices. Unhealthy and obese staff can value an employer at the least $450 extra per yr in medical bills. Companies can encourage staff to make more healthy decisions in these 3 ways:

  • Vitamin and Well being Schooling: Educate staff about the significance of a balanced eating regimen and invite nutritionists and healthcare professionals to offer ideas and assets by way of on-site seminars. Reinforce wholesome decision-making by internet hosting cooking demonstrations, offering discounted consultations with nutritionists, and providing staff entry to a wellness library full of cookbooks and magazines about wholesome consuming and dwelling. For bigger organizations, maybe incorporate well being festivals the place staff can get their BMI checked, participate in cooking courses, and obtain on-site well being recommendation.
  • Wholesome Choices: It’s important that companies present staff with the alternative to make wholesome decisions. Think about offering staff with wholesome choices, akin to fruit, yogurt, and tea, as an alternative of soda, sweet, and chips.
  • Serving Sizes: The necessity for portion management typically plagues employers who’ve cafeterias and full-size kitchens the place snacks are saved in giant bins. To assist forestall overconsumption, leverage the WELL Constructing Normal® for vitamin. For instance, a WELL-certified area regulates parts. Serving sizes embrace 10 inches for a round plate and 16 ounces for bowls and cups. This easy follow can go a great distance towards encouraging wholesome consuming habits amongst staff.

As healthcare prices improve throughout the nation, companies ought to think about the right way to combine worker well being and well-being into the workplace surroundings. Via efficient office design methods, we will lower stress and tobacco use, improve bodily exercise, and empower staff to make constructive and more healthy meals decisions. Considerate design can forestall turnover, absenteeism, and disengagement. For each greenback an organization invests in worker well being and wellness, medical and absenteeism prices drop $6, making the workplace setting itself a strategic device for enterprise success.