Manufacturing firm KI Furniture is calling on employers to adopt an “Active Design” approach to the workplace by making workers’ health and wellness top priorities. KI issued that call this week during a panel discussion at NeoCon, North America’s largest design exposition.
“To be sustainable, workplaces must be more than environmentally friendly—they must consider the sustainability of the human beings who work in them,” says Jonathan Webb, vice president, Business Markets, at KI Furniture. “Active Design can help employers attract and retain talent, control personnel costs, improve morale—and thereby foster the success of an organization.”
The panelists—Nila Leiserowitz of Gensler, Mark Hirons of Cannon Design, Cheryl Durst of the International Interior Design Association, and Rob Kirkbride of Monday Morning Quarterback—explored the latest research on Active Design, including a study authored by Webb.
Active Design incorporates height-adjustable sit/stand desks and open floor plans, which can get workers up and walking. In the office cafeteria, employers can implement Active Design principles by making healthy foods the default.
Small changes like these can have a big impact—a person burns 30 percent more calories by standing two hours a day instead of sitting.
America’s seated status quo bears some of the blame for our nation’s costly obesity epidemic. Overweight or obese folks miss 450 million workdays each year—at a cost of $153 billion.
“The workplace has become an incubator for sedentary behavior,” says Webb. “Sitting throughout the workday essentially negates all the positive effects of regular exercise. Active Design can help workers improve their health—without them even realizing.”