Though the COVID-19 pandemic has ensured we are more physically distanced than ever before, over the past year people have remained remarkably connected. Through social media and technology, we organized to keep society moving forward. The words hybrid and virtual have become affixed to countless encounters as we supplemented in person experiences with digital or distanced meetings. If the experience of COVID-19 reiterates any lesson about interior design, it’s the necessity of human connection.
In the workplace, some companies are planning to scale down their physical footprints, while others are determined to reenter a traditional, yet altered, and safer, office space. Regardless of the direction individual companies go, one thing is for sure; everyone is expecting change, but the one constant is a renewed focus on well-being.
Key Components of a “Well” Designed Workplace
It has been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and since the start LAN has been at the forefront of creating safer indoor environments. Below is a list of best practices, written by LAN interior designer Sun Ju Valenta, to help your current or future building’s interior design meet this moment.
Shift from Fixed to Fluid Designs That Are “We-Focused”
Floor pattern and furniture layouts should serve a practical function that adheres to social distancing requirements. However, workplaces will need to strike a balance with the need for vital in person teamwork. Integrated correctly, the interior design of our environments can also provide important wayfinding tools and serve a larger purpose by influencing behavior. The goal is creating a “we-focused” space that acknowledges the individual’s responsibility in keeping themselves and others safe. The objective is the appropriate balance of the key design strategies: density, geometry, and barrier. The challenge a professional interior designer can help you overcome is implementing this strategy and enhancing workplace performance.
Now more than ever, clean indoor air quality is at the center of the discussion. Not only is it a practical health requirement, but also speaks to humans’ instinctive attraction to nature. Biophilic design capitalizes on this attraction and integrates nature into building design in a way that has been shown to improve performance and health & well-being. Studies have shown in an office setting, productivity can be increased by 8% and rates of well-being can be increased by as much a 13% using biophilic design elements.
In school settings similar design techniques have shown a 20-25% increase in learning rates and improved test results and concentration rates. In conjunction with fresh indoor air quality, biophilic design elements can prove essential in interior design moving forward due to their combined psychological and physiological impacts. This is especially important for team meeting areas, cafeterias, and lounge areas.
Lighting is the biggest external factor that controls our body’s clock. It influences our mood and energy throughout the day. Interior designers recognize this and use circadian lighting to increase natural lighting that regulates the sleep-wake cycle to increase performance. Studies not only find that daily light exposure can boost immunity, but also examine how daily indoor light and time spent outside can have a major, positive impact on sleep quality, anxiety, and depression.
Interior designers are inventive by nature, and it’s time to get creative.
If you are contemplating the direction you want to take with an office reopening or need advice on how to best implement a plan you have in motion, LAN’s interior design and architectural teams are available to help. Contact LAN Associates to get started today.