The resurgence of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) was one of the drivers behind the decision to move our Santa Monica sales staff to a new showroom in L.A.—an energetic space enhanced by splendid 360-degree views from the 48th floor. The downtown vibe is reflected in a design that incorporates unique aspects of the neighborhood in which the building resides. Iconic houses and designs of the 1950s and 1960s are prevalent throughout the city, and served as inspiration for the showroom. A graffiti motif evokes the neighborhood culture, and permeates the space with vitality.
The showroom provided an opportunity to pilot a new approach to space design that promotes “well-being”— the enduring state that encompasses wellness of mind and body, and can lead to productive, engaged, and healthy employees. Through our research we learned providing environments that support user control, natural elements and daylight, and changing postures, address the physical and psychological health of people. Simply put, well-being enhances engagement, creativity, innovation, and retention in the workplace.
We also know from our research that people value autonomy in choosing where and how they want to work. They crave places that nourish the human spirit in a digital world. A mix of settings helps to inspire and invigorate them.
Optimizing the human experience at work is critical for organizations to engage people. Spaces must satisfy their physical, cognitive, and emotional needs. The intersection of this triad is where people thrive. It’s what we call “wholeness.” It balances energy and serenity to inspire and empower people, giving them a sense of purpose and belonging. Work environments offering a variety of spaces to support the activities people do throughout the day help them perform their best.
Wholeness also provides the foundation for a sense of well-being—a key design principle behind the Los Angeles showroom. The top global health issues for people in professional settings are workplace stress, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Organizations want healthy people that are more productive and engaged. Research proves the space we work in shapes our physical health and behavior but companies struggle to find a framework to implement well-being strategies within building projects.
Enter the WELL Building Standard®, a performance focused system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment to promote health and wellness for people. Grounded in medical research, WELL takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment, addressing behavior, operations, and design. WELL provides a framework to measure success in implementing built environment features, policies, and programs to encourage well-being. It certifies organizations that are building spaces to support the physical and mental health of their employees.
In collaborating with Perkins + Will on the space design, concepts evolved into a dual expression of mid-century modern and graffiti art. “We challenged Haworth to move beyond conventional standards and visualize their personality growing into this exciting new environment, and they gladly accepted,” said Yancy Wilkinson, Branded Environments Project Designer at Perkins + Will. “The new L.A. showroom is evocative of the city, true to the Haworth brand, and an original piece of artwork in itself.”
The design references DTLA architecture and energy—from enclosed spaces with uninterrupted ceiling planes to
articulated structures and vibrant contrasting colors that characterize the Post Modern palette.
Our research informs us that the work environment must provide a variety of spaces based on work activities. Knowledge workers value the autonomy to select spaces that help them achieve a high level of performance. The L.A. showroom is designed, based on that research, with a variety of group and individual spaces. It also supports people’s psychosocial needs for whole spaces that invigorate people during the day, fostering engagement.
This pilot project began in October 2014 with a pre-occupancy study of the impact the WELL Building Standard had on employees moving from the Santa Monica showroom to L.A.
A survey evaluated their experience with:
• Individual workspaces and collaborative spaces
• The quality of the overall work environment
• How these features impacted their individual work performance
• Employees’ feelings about their jobs, as well as engagement
• Health and stress at work
• Employees’ overall feelings of well-being as it relates to work
Guests are welcomed into the showroom space with the L.A. graffiti inspired graphic. Adjacent to the welcome center, Openest™ pieces provide a relaxed, collaborative setting and Harbor Work Lounge® seating is grouped together as a temporal zone to support individuals. Retreats are created throughout the space for private conversations and breakout teams with the semi-secluded designs of GranTorino HB and Windowseat® lounge seating.
Several group spaces throughout the showroom make collaboration easy with Workware® technology. Suite™ workspaces that easily transition from private office to collaborative spaces provide flexibility and maximize real estate. A Bluescape™ lounge includes soft seating and a variety of worksurfaces to accommodate strategic and creative thinking, with access to the Bluescape technology that enables 24/7 global collaboration.
The café and dining areas are designed for meetings or project work sessions where people can spread out materials. Then, after hours, it easily transitions for social gatherings.
To support the well-being pilot initiative, an exercise area was integrated into the space, promoting movement and exercise for staff during the day.
The move to DTLA provided an opportunity to explore the WELL Building Standard in space design.
Its seven pillars are similar in structure to LEED in addressing the built environment: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Each focuses on an aspect of what makes the built environment more beneficial for the occupant, both physically and mentally. The chart to the right outlines actions implemented in the L.A. showroom for each of the seven pillars.
The space also meets LEED Gold certification through energy, lighting, and water reduction, as well as use of recyclable and recycled materials.
A year after the first survey, post-move data was collected, revealing positive results: The new Los Angeles space is a productive and healthful place to work. The design undoubtedly validated the move and the investment in the WELL Building Standard through a number of workspace features: legibility, aesthetics,brand expression, and the ambient environment.
Showroom employees reported improvements in individual performance, such as the amount of work they are able to accomplish, level of creativity they are able to employ, and the ability to maintain focus at work. The new space maintains high engagement levels and employees reported fewer physical stress symptoms.
With such positive results, we’re continuing to conduct research around the WELL Building Standard in our facilities throughout the world. Our exploration will provide Haworth with fresh knowledge for integrating well-being and space design where people work—valuable information that we know will help drive space transformation for our customers, too.