Small Commercial Wellness in the Office UTAS Active Work Laboratory

Physical and mental health while you work

  •   24 September 2020

Sustainable design in the commercial sphere has gone well beyond energy and water efficiency and recycled materials, to encompass the physical and mental aspects of work, looking after our well-being. The sit-stand desk has been one of the major updates to traditional office furniture design that considers the well-being of its occupants. Sitting we have found out is the next worse thing to smoking.1

Walking desks while certainly not things of design beauty and expensive to buy, have been found to assist workers with their health at work. Travelling at around 2.5km/hr, walking on a treadmill set up with a desk, allows the user to walk at this slow pace while working. Reviews2 of these unusual pieces of furniture indicate that they provide a reasonable workout, help the users to rest at night and feel energised during the day.

If you think the walking desk looks weird, wait until you see the hamster wheel walking desk by artists Will Doenlen and Robb Godshaw! It’s a wheel that you walk in, so you control the pace using your own energy, rather than a set pace programmed into a machine. You can also build your own hamster wheel from open access instructions provided by Instructables.3

At the University of Tasmania, Dr Scott Pedersen has been trialling all kinds of desks which get you moving in his Active Work Lab.4 Here you can trial as well as sit/stand and treadmill desks: cross trainer desks, bike desks, balance and wobble board and desks, an elliptical trainer, mini stepper and fit ball desk. Keeping people moving rather than sitting Dr Pedersen says, is critical for good health and the Exertime program reminds people who are sitting, to get up and move.5

While studies have shown that physical fitness can also assist in mental health, stress in the workplace is a growing concern, affecting mental health.6 UNStudio has developed a pod system designed to ‘reset’ stress levels while at work using their responsive emotional transformation unit, Reset.7 There are six pods in the total unit, which can be used separately or as a set. Each pod addresses a different form of resetting stress. The user is hooked up to a monitoring system providing them with feedback. From this they can see which of the experiences best reduces their stress levels. The six pods are different in shape, size and interior finishes and include different activities for the user to engage in: intimacy, mind & body, escape, flight or flight, sound therapy and laughter.

While most people are still searching for wi-fi connected zones, wi-fi free zones particularly in cafés8 are becoming more popular as people tire of always being ‘connected’. While wi-fi free zones in offices would count as an error in most office designs, the not so far future may see an increase in wi-fi free ‘chill-zones’ within offices themselves, as a move to assist in health and well-being at work.9

For more information visit Technical Protection Systems.


Bought to you in association with Technical Protection Systems. Proud Sponsor of 2020 Sustainability Awards.

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Commercial Architecture (Small)

[1], accessed 13/3/20
[2], accessed 13/3/20;, accessed 13/3/20;, accessed 13/3/20
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[9] Smart Workplace 2040: The rise of the workplace consumer, CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, 2015