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How Active Design Promotes A Healthy Workplace

By October 26, 2016December 1st, 2016Workplace

A healthy workplace doesn’t just happen and it implies more than just providing healthy snacks. A healthy workplace takes effort and careful planning to address not only the complexities of the architecture, but also the roles and well being if its inhabitants. It takes a dedicated team and a thoughtful plan of action.

Active Design is one strategy Canter uses to address the issues of workplace health. Active Design helps us use a holistic approach to wellbeing. It’s important to ask the right questions at the very beginning of a project in order to deliver a sustainable, healthy and future-proof workplace.

Active Design promotes a healthy mind, a healthy body and a healthy ROI. Because space is an expensive investment, it’s important that it delivers a healthy return. You can’t have a healthy bottom line or a healthy workforce without having a healthy workplace.

There nine principles of Active Design as defined by KI.


Daylighting consists of removing tall barriers, bringing in natural light and reducing the need for artificial light.


It’s vital to create a variety of spaces for individuals to work within other than traditional desks. According to Joan Blumenfeld, Global Interior Design Director for Perkins & Will, “What we are doing for companies is providing the same number of seats, but in different formats; formal conference rooms, meeting rooms, a café with lounge area, lounge spaces.

Face-to-Face Communications

Providing a layout that encourages faceto-face interaction over electronic communication is an obvious way to promote movement and increase team building. Again, 50% of employees surveyed felt their offices encouraged this, while 74% of practitioners defined this as standard practice or increasing

Healthy Food Options

There are many ways employers encourage employees to eat healthier. They include providing healthy snack options in central locations, thereby encouraging workers to move. Providing access to healthy choices is likely to encourage employees to take advantage of better choices. This can be as simple as vending machines in a central location offering healthy options.

Movement at Work

When it comes to encouraging daily activity, employers are getting more creative. 12 Some now provide walking paths and even encourage walking meetings, which has been shown to increase creativity. 13 Only 47% of employees surveyed felt their offices provided them options for intentional physical activity at work, while 62% of practitioners defined this as standard practice or increasing

Flexible Design

While meeting areas of the past included boardrooms or conference rooms outfitted with tables and chairs, communal spaces can now be designed with a variety of uses in mind.

Subconsciously Inspire People to Take Stairs

One Active Design area that continually excites architects and designers is the ability to create visually appealing stairs. Well-designed and intentionally located staircases subconsciously encourage people to take the stairs instead of escalators or elevators. Only 29% of employees surveyed said their offices encouraged this via facility layout, while 49% of practitioners defined this as standard practice or increasing

Height-Adjustable Worksurfaces

Perhaps one of the most readily under-executed principles of Active Design is the use of standing height worksurfaces or height-adjustable worksurfaces, to the unfortunate detriment of today’s workers. A 2009 University of Queensland study found that even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health.

Outdoor Workspace

One of the biggest “aha” moments in KI’s research was with regards to outdoor workspace. When asked, “Does your employer offer outdoor space where you can work?” only 15% had such space available to them, and the overwhelming majority of those employees surveyed (69%) wished for access to outdoor space.

During the discovery phase of each project, our experienced and dedicated team will help you identify unique ways to create a healthy workplace. Contact us today to learn more about our Active Design philosophy.