As we go to press, Canada Life Group Insurance has released a new report suggesting a ‘link’ between where you work and your chances of getting cancer, or more specifially between open plan offies and cancer risk factors, such as over-eating, alcohol consumption, smoking and lack of exercise. For critics of open plan offies, the fidings make interesting reading (though sensationalising the research by linking it to cancer is in questionable taste). They show that employees in open plan offies are more likely to have put on weight since starting their current role (45% vs. 39% on average); are more likely to overeat or eat unhealthily due to workplace stress (48% vs. 42% on average); are more likely to make unhealthy food choices at work (58% vs. 52% on average). They are also more likely to smoke and frequently go drinking with colleagues after work etc.. These fidings have many possible explanations and should be taken with a very large grain of salt, but they do raise the question of what constitutes a healthy workplace.
Which is exactly what the WELL Building Standard (WELL) seeks to answer. Focusing exclusively on the wellbeing of a building’s occupants, WELL is concerned with aspects that impact human health, such as air, light, food, water, finess and comfort. The fist building in the UK and Europe to achieve WELL certifiation, the London offie of engineering consultancy Cundall, is the subject of this month’s offie design feature on page 36. It is open plan, but in a very healthy way.
One of the more conventional aspects of Cundall’s design is the large number of meeting spaces provided, ranging from the traditional conference and meeting rooms to huddle rooms and break-out areas. The growing popularity of collaboration technologies is leading to a proliferation of meeting rooms, which in turn is driving greater demand for large flt panel displays (our report from the BETT Show on page 26 includes details of the latest models, many with built-in interactivity and collaboration features). By providing temporary respite from open plan working, such spaces might not only improve decision-making but also contribute to a healthier, happier workforce.
James Goulding, Editor, email@example.com