Building design can influence workplace activity patterns with downstream effects on employee health outcomes. Traditional office building design is biased toward “human energy conservation” with many sitting options available. Thus, not surprisingly, high levels of sitting and low levels of physical activity are common in the office workplace. Given that adults spend a large proportion of the day at the workplace, changing the workplace physical environment to promote less sitting and more activity could have a beneficial impact on health.
Our workplace was designed to be an activity-permissive physical environment with flexible design, workspaces, and working conditions. The building included a glass enclosed staircase as a main design feature, electric height-adjustable workstations, standing option meeting rooms and common areas, centralized supplies/printing and an office layout that promoted vertical integration between floors.
In 2011, CHHM was the subject of a natural experiment to observe how working in an activity permissive environment decreases sedentary behaviour.