The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it may not be the healthiest way to go. Australian insurance company Medibank constructed an office building that is, in many ways, spatially inefficient – all for the good of its employees.
Medibank and architecture firm Hassell theorized that inefficient spaces would force employees into physical movement. In the new building, a meandering office plan wrapped around an atrium, and in the atrium was a spiderweb of linked staircases. To have face-to-face interactions or retrieve documents, employees had to take many more steps than they would have in a typical office – a FitBit user’s dream.
A flexible mix of collaborative areas and private workspaces promotes mental well-being, another important aspect of the balanced healthy design. Hassell’s principal designer Rob Backhouse says they sought balance throughout the design, recognizing that there are certain efficiencies that are vital for the smooth operation of any business. And adding inefficiencies to space plans doesn’t have to mean higher real estate costs. Super-efficient high-density storage can actually reduce the overall footprint, making an inefficient space plan easier on the budget in every way.
After two years of being design guinea pigs, Medibank’s employees were surveyed, and the results were encouraging: 79 per cent said their new building made them feel more collaborative, 70 per cent felt healthier and 66 per cent felt more productive. Balancing efficiency and inefficiency turns out to be a surprisingly beneficial design choice. Learn more in this video: https://youtu.be/sBNzye_WwPg
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