More than ever before, the health and safety of the workplace is in the spotlight as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Businesses are adjusting workspaces while instituting social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions.This only re-emphasizes the importance of considering wellness in the workplace.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that approximately 93 percent of an average American’s life is spent indoors.

For a full-time employee, that’s about 8.7 hours per day at work, which means he or she spends more time indoors for work (in an indoor office environment) than sleeping, eating, or taking part in recreational activities.

Even before COVID-19, spending too much time indoors was viewed as a contributing factor in developing or worsening of chronic conditions, such as obesity, stress, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.

There’s no doubt the human body has an intrinsic need for natural components to thrive including clean air and water, proper nourishment, natural light, regular activity, and comfort.

It is possible to create a work environment that mimics or caters to physiological needs, so employees feel healthier and work performance is optimized.

Even before COVID-19, spending too much time indoors was viewed as a contributing factor in developing or worsening of chronic conditions, such as obesity, stress, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.

There are a number of things that can be done to enhance the workplace for employees to show you care about their health and productivity:

Indoor environmental quality

All employees’ sensitivity to temperature is different, so what’s comfortable for one could be unpleasant to another. Employees who experience negative stimuli in the workplace are more likely to exhibit less productive job performance due to distractions caused by physical discomforts. If installing a mechanical system that feeds individual work areas (and gives employees greater temperature control) isn’t an option, one solution is allowing employees to venture from their desk or cubicle to work in different locations in the office from time to time.

It’s also crucial to have proper airflow which will affect moisture control, energy savings, and the health and wellbeing of those who work in the building.

Space

It’s important to have the space you need to perform a job well. What’s also important is the environment each provides. Having a variety of rooms creates a dynamic workplace.

Offering quiet, reflective rooms as well as bright, energetic spaces satisfies a diversity of needs and preferences for employees who thrive in different environments, and can help boost employee performance.

Flexibility also is a key and more important than ever, giving employees the opportunity to adjust workspaces when necessary.

Daylight and views

Being indoors under constant artificial light can stress both mind and body. Our bodies are aware of how the sun’s light varies across the sky and that’s what our bodies need.

Light has a direct effect on a number of things including hormone levels, sleep-wake cycles, and level of alertness. Facilities and offices with abundant windows offer a connection to the outdoors and plenty of natural light that helps boost energy and comfortability.

You don’t have to fully renovate your office space, but a few small changes can go a long way toward improving employee wellness and ease employees’ minds as they come back into the workplace during these trying times.

Steve Wille is a project principal at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction.