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Active Design: Take Your Work Outside

August 8, 2016
  • Workplace

The conversations around Active Design continue! Designers, manufacturers and customers are discussing what it is, what are the benefits and how it is implemented? In the simplest of terms, Active Design is an approach to the development of buildings and workplaces that make daily physical activity more accessible for employees. For a more thorough explanation, check out this post on Active Design.

KI has identified 9 Active Design principles for the workplace. Strategies range from the use of daylighting and staircases to creating multi-use environments. One principle that clearly stuck out during our research and feedback from employees, employers and designers was the request for and use of outdoor workspaces. Not only are employees looking for outdoor spaces but this work style and environment offers a number of benefits related to productivity, engagement and physical health.

Creating Outdoor Workspaces

Research shows that being outdoors does wonders for our health. Benefits include reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving immune function. Exposure to nature also boosts productivity, creativity and focus. All of these benefits reinforce the goal of Active Design, to promote the overall health and wellness of employees. Below are some simple ideas and considerations when encouraging employees to head outdoors or for planning outdoor environments:

  • Incorporate the outdoors into employees’ work days – Rather than holding a meeting in a conference room, take a walk or gather outside.
  • Offer outdoor spaces with worksurfaces and comfortable seating that employees can use for lunch breaks, meetings or as third spaces.
  • Ensure that internet connectivity is available and consider the management of glare from the sun.
  • Create an atmosphere that employees can physically go to, work and feel refreshed. Make it inviting, functional and flexible.
  • If outdoor workspaces are not an option, bring plants and natural elements into the office. Something as small as a plant on a desk is shown to have similar benefits to being in nature.

For more information on creating outdoor workspaces and on the other principles of Active Design, download KI’s eBook, “Understanding Active Design; The Rise of Human Sustainability”.


by Jonathan Webb  Director of Workplace & Healthcare Markets

Jonathan Webb leads KI’s strategic business units for workplace/private sector and healthcare. Jonathan studies workplace and healthcare trends, uncovers product gaps, and develops solutions with the KI team. Jonathan takes part in advanced workplace and corporate training strategies and documents his findings through white papers, articles, and other publications. His recent publications, Understanding Active Design: The Rise of Human Sustainability and Collegiate Design: The New Driver for Workplace Design, have put Jonathan in the media spotlight. Partnering with thought leaders like AECOM, his publications cover diverse subjects including sit/stand benefits, designing training environments, and defining work styles. Jonathan holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh School of Business and is a LEED-accredited professional.


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