At Arizona State University (ASU), administrators took on the challenge of encouraging staff to move around more during the day as they planned a new workplace. The Arizona State team, specifically employees at the College of Health Solutions as well as Nursing and Health Innovation, took this on following the complete renovation of the 5th floor at a university-owned building in downtown Phoenix.
Working with an expansive open plan and large windows, Arizona State challenged the Steelcase design team to make changes that would most benefit staff and school programs.
“Our vision was to have an ambience of productivity and peak performance,” said Teri Pipe, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation.
To improve the environment, ASU administrators were eager to introduce significant changes and simultaneously conduct “a natural experiment” involving their own staff as participants in a research project. Working with a third party, ASU set out to measure the effects of the physical work environment on health, cognition and stress levels.
Before staff moved into the new space, researchers took baseline measurements such as weight and cholesterol, and assessed how often people sit versus move in a given day. Employees were equipped with devices to gauge stagnation and activity, and they wore accelerometers on their wrists to track physical activity and sleep patterns at home.
“It’s amazing to sometimes see the whole office standing, and they talk about how much better they feel,” said Keith D. Lindor, executive vice provost and dean.
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