When it comes to the future of workplace design, there are certainly some things up for debate—will the open office continue to be the dominate layout? Will co-working companies boom or go bust when the next recession hits? Will smart tech integration prove to be a boon or a burden?—but one thing that remains clear is wellness-based design is here to stay. More importantly, despite its relatively recent arrival on the design scene, it’s growing in popularity and dynamism year after year.
This fact was most evident at the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) inaugural Workplace Wellness Leadership Summit (WWLS), held at the Garrison Institute’s picturesque former monastery setting. Nearly 100 interdisciplinary attendees from across North America gathered for three days of inspiring lectures and panel discussions, meditation and yoga sessions, and ample opportunities for networking. At the conclusion of the conference, it was clear that wellness-based design has vast potential to radically transform the quality of the built environment and inspire bold new ways of thinking about design.
“We see that all of you are the centers of gravity for a growing movement,” said Rachel Gutter, president of IWBI, addressing the attendees at the WWLS’s opening night networking reception. “More and more, we see that organizations are investing deeply in a culture of health and well-being. Not simply is this a reflection of altruism, but an understanding that the health of the business is linked to the health and wellbeing of the people who work there.”
Over the course of the three-day conference, 17 speakers who hailed from the design industry, academia, and other people-centered professional fields, offered their insight to the group. Topics included discussions on the role of design in creating effective change-management systems, how to implement universal design in offices, and the value of practicing mindful self-awareness in leadership positions.
Some the key takeaways included:
Investing in people: Having leaders create, maintain, and support a culture of health—with the knowledge that a leader's commitment to their own health and well-being impacts the wider organization.
Designing well: Interior designers are now going beyond the art of design, embracing the science behind it to create work spaces where people have options—so employees can choose what fits them best.
Wellness that works: Develop best pactices for creating and scaling wellness programs that aren't one size fits all—test out different strategies and be open to feedback.
“The conference was an informative, high-level look at how wellness-based design is fast becoming a broader topic that C-suite executives are addressing,” said Carol Cisco, Interior Design’s publisher and a guest at the WWLS. “The overall well-being of employees in the workplace is now inclusive of both the mental and physical aspects of how design can be instrumental in a positive way. We were very proud to be the media sponsor for this event and a part of moving the holistic well-being conversation forward.”
Plans for a 2020 Workplace Wellness Leadership Summit are already underway. More information about the summit can be found here.