Space designers need to think about more than aesthetics when designing office spaces or any space where members of the public will be visiting.
Everyone has different needs when it comes to working, accessing and using space. Space designers need to consider the emotional, physical and mental needs of those who will be using the space.
Here are a few ways to ramp up the usability of any space….
A large percentage of the population can’t manage stairs. That’s why designers need to provide access and egress points for those who are mobility impaired.
Ramps should be available as well as stairs for entrance points, at every doorway where there is a step up or step down in the interior of a building.
Elevators or escalators should be available in multi-story buildings for those who cannot climb stairs due to permanent or temporary physical disability.
Gardens and walkways should have a smooth surface option for those who might not be able to safely tread over stone or other uneven surfaces outdoors.
As the article, “Five tips for universal design” looks at, keep some of these ideas in mind:
Many people, including younger ones, are vision impaired to some degree. People like this often require more light than others to work comfortably. The light helps their eyes to make out letters and shapes that they need to avoid straining their eyes. Natural lighting in abundance is of course the best solution, but in the absence of available natural light, such as an interior office, plenty of overhead and task lighting needs to be available.
Employees should be able to claim enough personal space so they feel they have privacy and can arrange items around them that enable them to feel good and work well. As cubicles get smaller and space designers opt for open space designs, the importance of personal space is often forgotten. However, it’s critical for a sense of emotional well-being that employees feel they can claim a reasonable amount of space around them as their own.
In addition to the emotional and psychological well-being that personal space affords, employees will be healthier when they are not forced to work in too-close proximity to fellow employees who may be sick with a cold and masking their symptoms with cold medicine.
The EPA has reported that indoor air is typically five times more toxic than outdoor air. It’s crucial to everyone’s health in the office to allow some fresh air in every now and then. Of course, offices in high-rises can’t be expected to throw open the windows to let a warm spring breeze in. But there are air purifiers on the market that can be positioned around the office to help remove toxins from the air that employees breathe. Those offices that are on the ground floor should certainly make it a practice to open the windows on temperate days and get the fresh air circulating in a healthy way.
When employees and members of the public have to share a space, it should be designed in such a way as to make everyone as comfortable as possible.
About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.