Cool residential furnishings dominated the expo floor last week at the SIDIM design fair in Montreal, but two seminars stood out among others, highlighting the increasing presence of the importance of workplace design in the global design industry.
The first — “How to Master the Lightning Evolution of Workplace Design” — was presented by our own Natalie Grasso. She used projects that we’ve featured on the website as examples of how the workplace is evolving, and how space sets the context for culture.
The second workplace-related seminar was presented by Kathy Smythe, a workplace consultant for Steelcase, in Toronto. She asked, “Can the workplace be a place that you could actually leave healthier than when you arrived?”
She posed this question at a time that we’re becoming increasingly more aware of the relationship between worker wellbeing and business performance. Presenteeism, she said — that is, to be physically present in the office but mentally checked out — is costing businesses today three times as much as absenteeism.
- The overall death rate of people who sit for 6 hours or more per day was about 20% higher than people who sat for 3 hours or less per day. (American Cancer Society via the New York Times)
- The cost of waiting for people to get sick exceeds the cost of helping people to stay healthy by 19:1. (Dee Edington, the author of Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy)
- A lack of energy results from inactivity. Just 20 minutes of exercise can increase your metabolic rates. (Mayo Clinic Publication)
- Research shows that employees with increased engagement at work have decreased levels of total cholesterol and triglyceride. (Tom Rath, author of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements)
The next day, we visited the TRIUM showroom, a Steelcase dealer and key player in Quebec’s office furniture industry, where they echoed Smythe’s points.
“It used to be about collaboration,” said Mathieu Langlois-Lariviere, a workplace consultant for Steelcase. “Now it’s wellbeing, it’s presenteeism.”
Roxanne Labonne, a VP at TRIUM, emphasized the importance of finding furniture solutions that give companies and their employees the “advantage to change” and to adapt to evolving workplace expectations.
“We’re adapting to a new world,” she said, “It’s a new way of living and working for a new generation.”