CLEARWATER, Fla .– A coworking space called The Ring takes the concept of a healthy workplace up a notch.
Why is this important: As people return to work after the pandemic, some office spaces are betting that workers would rather spend their days in health-conscious spaces.
What they say : “Our goal is to be the healthiest coworking space in the world,” says Christopher Murphy, community manager at The Ring, which occupies two floors of an 11-story building in downtown Clearwater.
- The coworking space aims to obtain a GOOD Certification, a relatively new standard that certifies buildings to prioritize occupant well-being across key areas such as air, water, light, food and fitness.
Details: Conference rooms and elevator banks all have plants – living or preserved moss and hanging ferns – to filter the air. Murray says the air quality is better than that found in most hospitals.
- To keep the air fresh in individual offices, occupants should use garbage cans and printers in common areas. A dedicated ventilation system immediately removes air from the common “print room” when a print job is finished, removing harmful chemicals from the air.
- The rooms are equipped with special lighting designed to reinforce the circadian rhythms of the occupants. Natural light enters through large windows. Cork walls absorb excess noise.
- Aromatherapy is optional, and a nap capsule is a popular feature.
How it works: Think of WELL certification as an extension of LEED certification for environmentally friendly buildings.
- While LEED is a set of standards supporting buildings and the spaces within them, WELL is a set of standards supporting the overall health and well-being of the people who use the spaces.
- Although the two sets of standards were developed by different organizations, the credentials for both programs are governed by Green Building Certification Inc.
The big picture: Focusing on employee health isn’t new, but COVID-19 has put more emphasis on it.
- This is especially true as companies re-evaluate the type and size of office space they will need in a hybrid work structure, said Cynthia Townsend, one of the few interior designers registered to have WELL accreditation in the Tampa Bay area.
- “Organizations are seeing a return on their investments through increased employee engagement and productivity,” said Townsend, who is not affiliated with The Ring.
At the end of the line : To convince white-collar workers to choose an office over their home, companies will need to entice them with increased wellness amenities in whatever spaces workers meet.
- While upgrades, like a brand new ventilation system, can be expensive, designers say it can pay dividends by giving workers one more reason to be in a collaborative environment with their co-workers.