Co-working spaces prioritize "wellness" as well as WiFi
CLEARWATER, Florida — A co-working space called The Ring is taking the healthy workplace concept up a notch.
Why it matters: As people return to work after the pandemic, some office spaces are betting that workers would prefer to spend their days in health-conscious spaces.
What they're saying: "Our goal is to be the world's healthiest co-working space," says Christopher Murphy, community manager at The Ring, which occupies two floors of an 11-floor building in downtown Clearwater.
- The co-working space is aiming to get a WELL Certification, a relatively new standard that certifies buildings for prioritizing occupants' well-being through core areas such as air, water, light, nourishment and fitness.
Details: Conference rooms and elevator banks all have plants — living or preserved moss and hanging ferns — to filter the air. Murray claims the air quality is higher than what you'd find in most hospitals.
- To keep the air fresh in individual offices, occupants must use trash cans and printers in common areas. A specialized ventilation system immediately whisks away the air in the communal "printing room" when a print job is done, removing harmful chemicals from the air.
- Rooms are equipped with special lighting designed to reinforce occupants' circadian rhythms. Natural light pours in through large windows. Cork walls absorb excess sound.
- Aromatherapy is optional, and a napping pod is a popular feature.
How it works: Think of the WELL Certification as an extension of the LEED Certification for environmentally sustainable buildings.
- While LEED is a set of standards supporting the buildings and spaces within them, WELL is a set of standards supporting the overall health and well-being of the people who use the spaces.
- Although the two sets of standards were developed by different organizations, credentials for both programs are governed by the Green Building Certification Inc.
The big picture: Focusing on employees' health is not new, but COVID-19 has placed more emphasis on it.
- This is especially true as companies reevaluate the type and size of office spaces they'll need in a hybrid-work structure, said Cynthia Townsend, one of the few registered interior designers who has a WELL accreditation in the Tampa Bay area.
- "Organizations see a return on their investments through increased employee engagement and productivity," said Townsend, who is not affiliated with The Ring.
Bottom line: To convince white-collar workers to choose an office over their home, companies will need to entice them with increased wellness amenities in whatever spaces workers will gather.
- While the improvements, like a brand new ventilation system, can be pricey, designers say it can pay dividends in giving workers one more reason to be in a collaborative environment with colleagues.