Office design is ever-changing to achieve a better workforce within it. From adding an aspect of fun into the office environment, to experimenting with lighting, layouts and equipment, the aim is always to create an innovative and productive space for employees.

Many firms promote health and well-being, with inclusive gyms, complimentary gym memberships, or encouraging an active commute, with shower facilities available at the office. However offices like Arup in Boston are going further, certified as a ‘healthy building’, with the WELL certification and LEED v4 standard.

The two certifications overlap, but do differ in their aims. WELL consists of over 100 standards, but is simply the certification of a ‘healthy building’ with improved air, water, light, noise and temperature in the environment, looking at the well-being and health of employees. LEED v4 is specific at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water and energy consumption from the building, looking at the bigger picture and the health of the planet; they both go hand-in-hand in boosting sustainability.

Engineering and consultancy firm Arup have recently moved into their new ‘healthy offices’ at 60 State Street in downtown Boston, proudly dominating the 10th floor of the building. The offices are filled with facilities to promote healthiness and well-being, including motorized sit-stand desks to encourage less sedentary working and shower facilities to allow workers to freshen-up after an active commute or lunch-break.

 All employees are also provided with maps pinpointing nearby healthy food outlets, as well as healthy food options within the building with no vending machines full of chocolate bars in sight. However this doesn’t go down well with everyone; some appreciate the efforts to promote healthy eating, yet the complete removal of the occasional treat is a step too far and insulting on independence and choice, according to office manager Laura Allen. She says to the Boston Globe;

“These are adults, these are not second graders, and I think that we have to give them a little credit for being able to make the right decisions for themselves.”

With a valid point Allen makes, there is no strict restrictions on employees nipping out for a McDonald’s lunch once in a while if they fancy it. The promotion of healthy-eating in the office with the informative maps and nutritious options available are there to benefit all and make it easy to skip that McDonald’s trip; each to their own.

Design-wise, the lighting fixtures adjust accordingly to daylight and time-of-day, to always portray the appearance of natural light, which is said to promote a better working environment – the lights also project upward to reduce glare and harsh artificial lighting. Principal Mark Walsh-Cooke notes that this feature is hardly noticeable, not being distracting, but is highly effective; “The day goes by and I don’t feel as tired,” he said, as reported by the Boston Globe.

The WELL certification that Arup – and over 300 projects – is seeking has different levels to suit the company, budget and preferences, ranking up to a gold or platinum rating. Optional standards which can be added for optimum rating include factors out of work, like prohibiting the use of emails after midnight to promote sufficient sleep, and using technologies within the office to protect materials from wear and tear and damage from mould, etc.

Principal and leader of Arup’s Boston branch Tim McCaul says: "Arup is committed to creating both a sustainable and healthy office environment. We believe that working in a healthy building relates to employee performance, recruitment and retention, reduced absenteeism, embodiment of brand, and company culture."

Light, ventilation and design is extremely influential on the office worker, and so Arup’s dedication to health and well-being is a step in the right direction, and a great example to other businesses, striving for success in their office space.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.

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