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June 15, 2016 — The latest thinking in active design can help keep office workers healthy and energized — but only if employers avoid common pitfalls, according to integrated design firm JZA+D. Here are four of them:
• Thinking product first: Among the biggest traps? Thinking that active design is a product choice.
"For too many facilities, standing desks are offered as the solution," said JZA+D founding partner Joshua Zinder. "But making employees stand for eight straight hours is no better than having them sit. Catchphrases like 'sitting is the new smoking' only help sell standing desks."
• Neglecting variety: Workplace designs that don't encourage movement.
"Standing is only one part of a healthy lifestyle," Zinder said. "More important is variety: People need to be moving and doing things, so we work with clients to create buildings and interiors that promote activity during the working day."
• Designing in a vacuum: A third challenge is creating silos for architecture, furnishings, technology, and work policies — areas that need to be fully integrated to achieve long-term active design solutions.
That's why JZA+D provides integrated consultative design, collaborating from the earliest workplace planning phases and developing a mix of programming, architecture, interior design, branding, and advisory solutions for each client employer.
"In the programming phase, the goal is not just to fit walls and furniture into a floor plan," said Zinder's partner Marlyn Zucosky, an expert in commercial office properties and the latest thinking in active design. "Instead, it's a process that helps discover and define the company's unique office culture."
• Forgetting that workers must rest, too: The JZA+D design teams focus on a fourth big challenge, which is commonly overlooked: Active employees with well-rested brains are more productive. In fact, Zucosky said, most restful breaks include activity — walking to lunch, for instance, or playing a game. For this reason, recent projects by JZA+D include:
• Break areas and shared printing stations located away from offices.
• Fitness equipment provided as an amenity.
• Adjustable desks for alternating between sitting and standing.
Avoiding these common pitfalls can help companies achieve more and lasting results from their active design investment.