Christopher Meyers, AIA, LEED AP
Christopher is a Principal of Meyers + Associates, Architecture, a firm that has received a variety of recognition for their architectural and interior design work. He is also the recipient of Business First’s “40 under 40” award. Christopher can be reached at [email protected]
When most people think about health, specifically the wellness
of their workforce, they tend not to think about architecture.
It is often overlooked, though it plays an integral role in how
you and your staff perform on a daily basis. The truth is,
architecture impacts us all— in our homes, our offices and
even our community.
As an architect, I am always preaching the great benefits of
design and architecture to our clients, especially as they relate
to health. I emphasize that architecture can directly impact an
employee’s productivity. In fact, an employee’s workspace can
drastically affect his or her well-being, attitude, level of effort,
and ultimately, his or her happiness. This impact is not a result
of aesthetics alone, but of an entrepreneur’s planning strategies.
The message that I give others recently became one that I
applied to my own business. I was offered an opportunity to
purchase property that I could develop into a new office space
for my staff of 26. Before I started conceptualizing, I knew
that this new office needed to demonstrate our commitment
to good environmental design and thoughtful planning. I also
knew we needed to be budget conscious and save money in
the short and long term.
Here are some of the steps we took
to ensure we collaborate to create a healthy and enjoyable
One architectural notion we explored was the philosophy of
placement. By positioning key components of our space at
particular locations, we could force interaction among people
and reduce the sedentary nature of most common office
environments. We created five different meeting spaces and
spaced them out accordingly. Each space was designed to be
visible and open, yet perform to the needs of our business.
Natural Light, Naturally
Another effort was our use of lighting. Numerous studies I’ve
read cite the great value of natural light. Other studies highlight
the significant impact of eye strain and fatigue on staff as a
result of poor lighting design. To prevent that from occurring,
we installed a device described as a “daylight harvesting
system.” It automatically reads the amount of natural light
coming in from outside and balances the artificial lighting
to output a consistent level of light, significantly reducing
eye strain. Also, we now provide ambient lighting, as well
as individual-controlled task lighting, which lets employees
control their lighting to suit their needs. I’ve noticed that
these simple adjustments have yielded better performance by
reducing fatigue and strain.
Another step we took was to ensure that the aesthetics of
our new environment promoted stability. By utilizing a variety
of materials, colors and textures, we were able to create
a soothing backdrop that inspired calm and encouraged
employees to work more efficiently. We made it a point to blend
subtle colors and opted for more soothing fare, such as earthtone
and pale hues. In choosing these colors, I have noticed
a direct improvement on the state of mind of my employees.
After applying these steps to our new office, I have noticed that
it has greatly impacted employee performance. Not only have
we have had a significant reduction in employee time off due
to illness, but productivity has improved and deadlines seem
to be met more easily. What’s more, in employee performance
reviews, I am consistently told that the work environment is
one of the best benefits we offer as a company.
Overall, implementing these three steps has helped me
operate my business. It has also given me awareness that
the modifications could ultimately promote higher productivity,
which in turn, means a better return on our efforts. After
seeing the results first hand, I now approach our clients and
community with an even greater confidence in the message
I deliver. From my experience, the right aesthetics and
architectural design of an office create an environment that
promotes comfort, stability and overall wellness.