January 1, 2013

A Healing Environment

We’ve all been in work environments that make us either feel good about coming to the office in the morning, and those which don’t.

For those that don’t -- is it the mundane and unsatisfying work? Unpredictable work hours and demands? Annoying co-workers? Bullying boss? 

Let’s face it—the environment we work in can make the difference between whether we enjoy a long happy career someplace or whether we want to run out the door screaming. 

At the extreme, I remember a colleague telling me how when they were temping in college they worked in some mind-numbing jobs for some awful companies and they literally lasted in some cases until noon before they couldn’t take it anymore. 

Factors aside from the people can make a person feel good or bad. 

In an interesting article in Fast Company (December 2012/January 2013) called “Spaces That Heal,” hospitals have found that the patient’s room itself can actually be designed to aid in bringing people back to good health.

Research shows that “the color, shape, layout, and accoutrements of a hospital room have a direct effect on health.”

Some design items in the hospital that aid recovery, for example, are:

- Sunnier and brighter spaces with big windows (unless you are having a migraine!)
- Exposure to “nature and art” (I choose nature—the greener, the better)
- Classical music (make mine high energy or pop)
- Colored walls (light blue is relaxing for me)
- Lot of clean circulating fresh air (I like the air conditioner on all year long--even Winter!)
- Presence of family members (well certain family members anyway) :-)

Additionally, rooms wired for smartphones, tablets, and computers and that keep patients busy and engaged are another big positive—I remember when I was in the hospital and my wife brought me a device so I could blog and be me, and I felt like a productive human being again.

New room design in hospitals will also be single rooms (yes, a little privacy and personal space when you’re not feeling well).
They will also have beds at an angle that “face both the window and the media wall”—the media wall is very cool where you can look at everything from digital photos of your kids to watching Netflix or being able to Skype.

Beds will be placed in line of sight of nursing stations for safe monitoring, and bathrooms will have dual accessibility from the patient’s room for doing your business, and from the hall for hospital staff to come and restock it or clean without waking a resting patient. 

The environment we recuperate in matters to how we recover and the environment we work in matters to how we stay healthy, happy, and productive. 

People are not machines, but thinking and feeling beings, and how they are treated physically, emotionally, and mentally all make a world of a difference to their success or failure—and to that of the organization that employs them. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Be Live Hotels)


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