The interest in healthy lifestyles and sustainable ways of living and working
is not limited to Millennial workers with their “start-up” perspective and
admiration of superstar companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. As one
writer in Forbes magazine pointed out, “... Baby Boomers who are aging are
equally invested in a healthy lifestyle, healthy communities and a healthy
planet, but perhaps Millennials depart in the expectation that the places that
they work will embody those ideals and support those goals. It is not simply
a matter of catering to a younger demographic, but of understanding their
world view, appreciating their point of view and making the most of their
unique abilities—specifically their exceptional ability to learn, create and
work effectively both as teams and individuals.”
And after all, if people are a primary asset, then it only makes sense to ensure
that workers are cared for and prospering. If we take significant steps to promote
physical and psychological health and well-being among every generation
at work, we can begin to reduce medical costs, improve productivity and
performance, net happier and more engaged workers and ultimately realize
greater economic value.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,
and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." - World Health
Our ability to create a healthy workplace, along with healthy neighborhoods
and communities depends on our ability to bring our human systems—
social, economic, cultural—into harmony with natural systems. It depends
on continuing to question, research and create new knowledge about built
environments that promote human physical and mental well-being.
Design of the workplace must be practiced as an interdisciplinary and
integrative process set within the context of human and planetary health.
There is an enormous opportunity here for sustainable design and architecture
to grow beyond preventing environmental degradation to become truly
restorative, to not only alleviate the damaging effects of work but to make
work a catalyst for health.
The potential is there. The issue is not technical, it is ethical. Our workplaces
can enable the physical and mental vitality that’s needed to learn, create and
innovate. Even more, design can help create places where work is a richer
experience, one that embraces the fullness of our nature as social, curious and
How do we inspire a new generation and tap into the passion for meaningful
work, as well as an innate ability to collaborate, to learn and ultimately to lead?
Company leadership, HR, IT, finance, facilities management and design must
come together to create a positive culture, varied workspaces and a healthy
work environment. Any form of standing still—physical, mental, metaphorical—