With the cold winter months arriving, it is important now more than ever to integrate active design into the workplace to help keep employees healther and happier. So how do you integrate more activity in your office space? The answer is incorporating important elements of Active Design. Below we have identified 3 categories where you may feel the most affected during the winter, with solutions supported by specific Active Design Principles.
1. Incorporate the power of natural light.
So what are some physical benefits to increasing our bodies' exposure to daylight? Well, according to ScienceNordic,
"The sun and its rays play a critical role in human physiology: without exposure to the sun, the body itself cannot produce vitamin D, a substance that helps maintain normal blood levels of phosphorus and calcium...Daylight also affects the production of substances in the brain that affect moods. A lack of daylight causes the body to produce substances that make us sleepy and lethargic instead of substances that make us feel peppy and alert. Light is an active neurobiological agent that is crucial in regulating cortisol, serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain.
When light hits the retina, it activates photoreceptors (light-sensitive nerve cells), which stimulates the production of serotonin and cortisol. These substances are important in determining our physical and mental health. Insufficient levels of serotonin can result in depression, lack of energy, sleep problems, mood swings and poor impulse control."
There is also a link to our melatonin production. "Melatonin is the body’s sleep hormone. It is secreted by the epiphysis, also called the cone gland or pineal gland. This gland secretes melatonin when we are in the dark, which means that during winter’s dark days, we produce more melatonin than in the summer. Research suggests that the overproduction of melatonin can lead to fatigue and depression.
When light hits your eyes, melatonin breaks down in the blood and its secretion is halted. Simple light treatment is thus an effective means of stopping the secretion of melatonin. This in turn can reduce fatigue and prevent winter depression."
2 Active Design Principles address incorporating exposure to natural light which can help with beating the winter blues:
- Daylighting. Try to work near a window or in a space that allows natural light to stream into your workspace.
- Allocate outdoor workspace. Even though it may be too chilly to work remotely outside, take that extra walk outdoors and see your creativity improve. According to Stanford University:
"Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels."
"Studies show that a stroll outdoors can actually improve brain function and mental focus. Walking not only results in increased physical activity, it also promotes the free flow of ideas, according to Stanford University researchers. "
2. Keep it Moving!
Help employees to get up and moving around their workspace. So how do you get started?
"A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression," (Source).
"Talking yourself into taking a walk when the temperatures plummet isn’t easy, but the benefits are big: Spending time outside (even when it’s chilly!) can improve focus, reduce symptoms of SAD, and lower stress levels," (Source).
Harvard Medical School also reports "Exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure." So which Active Design Principles can be applied to help get your employees moving with your office design?
- Create a variety of work spaces
- Encourage face-to-face communication
- Encourage movement at work
- Subconsciously incite people to take the stairs
- Incorporate height-adjustable work surfaces
3. Encourage healthy eating habits.
Lastly, providing healthy options for employees helps keep them stronger, healthier, and happier. Boost your immune system through healthy food choices. "While nothing can completely stop a cold in its tracks, a healthy immune system can help ward off the germs that cause colds and the flu. A healthy immune system can even minimize a cold’s duration," (Source).
By creating a multitude of ways for employees to work and encouraging them to move throughout the day, the benefits are insurmountable. Need more proof? Check out KI Furniture's infographic breaking down more benefits of Active Design:
For more information about integrating Active Design Principles in your workplace to help combat the winter blues, contact us today!