What is sustainable office design?

Sustainable office design refers to creating a workplace that minimises its long term impact on the environment.

Incorporating sustainability into an office design is a complex process and goes beyond simply using eco-friendly materials. While this is a key feature, sustainability in the office also involves considering the use of energy efficient solutions, such as lighting, heating and ventilation, as well as incorporating recycled, reclaimed or repurposed products, and managing energy usage.

Biophilic design, which refers to incorporating natural elements like planting, FSC certified wood and stone, can also contribute to improving sustainability. Creating a sustainable office also includes the design and fit-out process. Designing out waste, responsibly procuring materials, diverting waste from landfill during the refurbishment phase and using local suppliers will all help in reducing carbon impact.

Our approach to sustainable office design

When creating a healthy and sustainable office environment there are many elements to consider. At ADT Workplace, we have developed an innovative process to help create workspaces which support a healthier lifestyle: ADT Wellspace. ADT Wellspace comprises eight core principles, focusing on a human-centered approach to sustainable office refurbishment.

Applying the principles at the office design and scoping stage of a project, will not only help you create a truly healthy and sustainable workplace environment for your employees, but will also deliver real business benefits, including:

  • Increasing productivity, concentration, and memory retention
  • Better collaboration, creativity, and innovation
  • More energy and motivation
  • Enhancing comfort and fewer distractions
  • Reducing absenteeism
  • Improving talent attraction and retention
  • Increasing commitment to sustainability and reducing life cycle cost

Our office design principles…

In this first stage of the process, we explore the wants, needs, motivations, and aspirations of a business and its people, which is integral to creating an effective and unique workspace.

This helps us understand what the business aims to achieve in terms of office sustainability and employee wellbeing, and then we consider this in line with budget and design vision.

By immersing ourselves in our clients’ businesses through an in-depth workplace consultancy process, our team creates tailored space plans which offer better functionality and maximise output, while enhancing employee health and wellbeing and meeting sustainability targets.

After changes in workplace habits, behaviours and expectations post-pandemic, creating a memorable experience for employees and visitors is vital. With working from home now a frequent occurrence for most, employees who travel into the office will seek an experience that they cannot get at home to ensure a productive and purposeful visit. Essentially organisations now have to make the commute worth it for their employees.

Workplaces need to offer a sense of belonging and comfort, as well as an atmosphere which fosters collaboration and innovation among teams and colleagues. Our team has experience in assisting businesses in creating memorable experiences through office design for employees and visitors by considering:

  • How people arrive into the space
  • How you can create a sense of belonging
  • What amenities and facilities you want to provide. What added extras and features will make that all important difference?
  • How you can create an eco-friendly office environment which reinforces your culture, brand, and values
  • How people will get the job done efficiently
  • How you can create a space which is adaptable to future change

The continuous global climate crisis has led to a shift in consumer behaviour. Employees now demand change and improved sustainability practises from businesses they choose to work for. To ensure you gain this edge over competitors, we assess the full life cycle costs and sustainability of products we use in office design. This approach helps balance the planet, people, and profit to deliver long term results.

We also consider your current or potential space and provide guidance on sustainable office fit out solutions and energy efficient choices. These options will have a positive impact whilst aligning with your budget.

Mental and physical
In 2020, all businesses experienced an accelerant of cultural change, which identified a shift in everyone’s expectations of the workplace. Employee wellbeing and a positive culture is now at the heart of every business. For that reason, a key focus when designing a new office, is considering how you can actively improve employees’ mental and physical wellbeing, and overall working experience.

We can do this by ensuring the environment enhances health as much as possible, by providing good quality fresh air and appropriate ventilation, controllable heating, cooling, and lighting, and comfortable, sustainable office furniture. The allows people to work how and where they prefer depending on the task at hand.

Air quality
Air quality contributes towards the overall health of employees, so it’s crucial to implement an effective ventilation design strategy tailored to your employees and their working habits. By optimising air quality and reducing the amount of contaminants from external pollution, you can directly impact the productivity and increase alertness of your team.

Appropriate ventilation also contributes towards temperature and humidity control, by promoting air movement and preventing condensation and mould growth. Due to its impact, prioritising excellent ventilation should be high on your list when creating a healthy and sustainable office.

Natural light
Effective lighting throughout an office can increase the comfort and productivity of employees. Access to natural light has been proven to balance employee’s circadian rhythm, ultimately reducing levels of anxiety and drowsiness. Controllability and efficiency of lighting are also crucial to ensuring employee comfort and helping reduce energy usage.

Our workplace designers skilfully create office designs which optimise the available natural light and carefully plan artificial lighting according to the workplace settings, and how they will be used.

Research shows that two thirds (66%) of employees are less productive when exposed to just one nearby conversation, proving the essential nature of office acoustics. Providing optimum acoustic comfort varies from having somewhere private to hold meetings, to spaces to work collaboratively, or a places to relax and more.

Features such as acoustic panels, walls, ceilings, sound-absorbing materials and even furniture, can help to reduce sound movement through an office space. They are fundamental to ensuring productivity but importantly, employee mental health and wellbeing.

Thermal comfort ranks as one of the highest contributing factors influencing overall satisfaction in buildings. Office workers who are satisfied with their thermal environment have been proven to be more productive. Despite being difficult to navigate due to a combination of environmental and personal factors, providing choice through a controlled heating and cooling system will support a healthy environment in which employees take control of their own comfort.

What next

Businesses can no longer debate whether to incorporate sustainability into their strategy due to changing legislation and perspectives. Customers, employees and investors are increasingly considering sustainability when making choices so addressing environmental challenges, incorporating sustainable practices and having a clear strategy will help improve business success. In fact, studies show that the most sustainable businesses, which successfully balance people, profit, and the planet, are also the most profitable.

Sustainable office design is just one way businesses can improve their sustainability but its impact should not be underestimated. If you’re struggling to know where to start and would like to discuss sustainable office design ideas, our team of workplace consultants would be happy to help.

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