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Built Environment & Wellness

Written by Toni Sperlbaum

What if you had to hopscotch into a conference room as you entered because there’s a tape hopscotch board on the floor.

What if when you entered that conference room, you had the option of standing at a taller bistro table around the perimeter of the room, or to sit comfortably in a chair?

What if you had a basketball hoop in your parking lot or behind your building?  Would employees play at lunch, or perhaps after work before heading home?  I don’t know for sure – but the likelihood is certainly much higher!

There are so many opportunities being missed in the worksite wellness arena when it comes to the built environment to activate employees and really show support for the types of behaviors you are aiming to change in your workforce.  Two aspects of built environment can be considered:

1. The “Built In” environment that usually requires some construction or major foresight when renovating office spaces.  This could include making the stair well open, well lit, and in a prominent place in the center of a room versus having the elevator front and center.  This certainly is important, but not always as easy to just change on a whim or implement over a short time period.

2. The “Surface Level” built environment, typically more affordable for companies and easier to implement, which includes my above what if examples as well as additional ideas such as:

  • An option for stand up desks (they sell relatively cheap desk top ones that can adjust your computer vs. having to purchase a full desk with an electrical height adjustment.  Although, those are pretty cool too)

  • Turning an old office into a makeshift gym with a treadmill, some hand weights, a ball, some bands, and maybe a TV and DVDs where employees can work out with DVDs on their lunch break

  • Paint/artwork in the stair wells done by employees

  • An indoor walking path marked with arrows and a map indicating how many laps around x department = 1/2 mile, for example (you can make an outdoor path, too!)

  • “Wellness Recognition Wall” where you can feature employees who have lost weight, completed a 5K or similar event, quit smoking, etc.

  • Installing bike racks, removing a barrier for employees to ride to work

  • Offering utensils in your break rooms will encourage employees to pack a lunch instead of going out.  Ample fridge and microwave space will help with this too!

  • Placing the healthier vending machine options at eye level and the unhealthier options down below.The possibilities and creative ideas are endless!  Take a look at your built environment, or tap into the creative juices of your wellness committee and see how you can mold your environment to support wellness efforts.

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