How an architecture firm designed its office to make its workers healthier and more collaborative, with movable ‘green walls’ and air quality control
Commute times are up, and face-to-face interactions are down.
The average American worker spends about a third of their waking life in the office. So how do you design a space where people actually want to come to work?
M Moser, a global architecture firm founded in Hong Kong, designs offices that foster collaboration. And they’re experimenting within their own walls.
Grant Christofely, M Moser workplace strategist: “We really wanted a space where we could kind of test the limits and show our clients, and ourselves of course, that you know, really anything is possible. You can have a completely modern space inside of a building that’s over 100 years old.”
At M Moser’s Manhattan office, worker well-being begins with environmental factors. Lights here change temperature, mimicking the rhythm of the sun. Poorly ventilated offices can contain more toxic chemicals than outdoors, so movable green walls purify the air.
Charlton Hutton, M Moser lead designer: “Commercial spaces have been devoid of that kind of human touch.”
Christofely: “There are a lot of negative impacts that the workplace has. Space can make us depressed if we don’t have access to natural light. There are a lot of factors, whether it’s natural or manufactured, that make your body sick.”
Teamwork requires healthy employees. M Moser takes a data-driven approach to designing for their clients.
Christofely: “We conduct pretty thorough research about the organizations that we are working with. So we understand a) what are their business objectives and what are the behaviors needed to drive towards those objectives. And then design spaces and technology that support those behaviors.”
“Because we are so mobile and no one has an assigned seat, we have lockers for everybody.”
Hutton: “We’re actually powered on these remote battery packs. What’s really allowed us to be truly mobile is people can kind of flexibly grab these things and move around where they need to.”
No assigned seating, also known as “hot-desking.” It’s a strategy companies use to save money. Some studies say it creates distractions. M Moser believes it encourages teamwork.
Christofely: “This is a space for collaboration. We’ve almost reversed what most organizations do. You collaborate out here, and when you’re in a room, you’re focused on something.”
Indoor plants have been found to boost mood and productivity.
Christofely: “The green wall, so we have about five of these. Two of them are movable. It’s providing clean air back into the space.”
Hutton: “We have air quality control monitors throughout the space. And I don’t think we’ve ever dropped below 98% like pure, clean air.”
Worker health has a price tag. Illness cost US employers an estimated $225 billion each year.
Christofely: “The idea was to bring human health and wellness into the environment so that the place you spend most of your life actually, is actually making you healthier rather than making you sicker, which obviously leads to better performance, higher productivity, less sick days, the list goes on and on.”