34 HR Magazine October 2017
refuse into the recycling, trash and compost bins. And herb plants
line the window, allowing employees to cut and add the edibles to
their daily meals.
“Staff spend a lot of time at work, and they want to be able to
feel comfortable in their environment because then they can be
more engaged and higher-performing,” Fowler says
The American Society of Interior
Designers: A Natural Fit
When the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) built
out its new 8,500-square-foot office in Washington, D.C., in
2016, it was a natural fit to encompass LEED principles. After
all, ASID’s mission includes the idea that interior design can
enhance people’s lives. ASID also sought the WELL Building
Standard awarded by the International WELL Building Institute to advance health and well-being in buildings. In fact, this
year ASID’s headquarters became the first space in the world
to achieve platinum-level certification for both the WELL Building
Standard and LEED.
The goal at ASID was to design
the new space so that “it speaks to
the future of workplace design and
how workplaces are designed to
increase productivity, to make sure
employees are effective, to make
sure they’re functional, and [so that
it takes] into consideration the general health and well-being of those who work in the space,” says
Katina Davis, ASID HR director.
ASID sold its Capitol Hill building and worked out of a
WeWork co-working space for about a year while it scouted
buildings and built out its new headquarters. WELL standards
revolve around seven components: air, water, nourishment,
light, fitness, comfort and mind. Embracing these concepts,
ASID provides fresh fruit and vegetables to employees, and it
requires that catered events have vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options.
ASID’s kitchen, which is called the “café,” stores dishes sized
to encourage healthy portion sizes, and each employee is issued a
water bottle and a Fitbit. ASID’s building has a fitness center—a
requirement when the team was searching for a new headquarters—and employees are permitted to work out during the day if
they prefer that over exercising before or after work.
The organization, which has 35 employees, covers the full
cost of health insurance for employees and their dependents and
recently increased paid maternity/paternity leave to eight weeks
from four. A wellness/lactation room includes a refrigerator,
comfortable seating, dimmer lighting, yoga mats and essential
oils. The room is engineered to be quieter than a typical office,
and if it isn’t being used by breast-feeding moms, employees can
use it to relax, meditate, do yoga, stretch or even take a nap.
“People feel good about working here because they feel that
we care about them,” Davis says, “and it’s also been an excellent
recruiting tool when I share with people some of the benefits
that we offer in the office.”
When job candidates come in for interviews, they’re often
pleased—and sometimes surprised—at the bright, airy, open
space, Davis says. ASID has 28 workstations, which all have
motorized sit-stand desks that allow employees to switch
between the two options in about six seconds.
A study supported by ASID’s foundation revealed that
employees who used standing desks reported improved produc-
tivity and health. The yearlong study at Perkins+Will’s Atlanta
office found that people who used adjustable workstations expe-
rienced a 65 percent improvement in productivity compared to
those who kept traditional desks. Moreover, 65 percent said the
adjustable setup positively affected their health outside of work.
ASID also has four private offices that are not assigned to
any one person but are available for staff to reserve as needed for
a few hours or a few days. The CEO has a workstation alongside
everyone else—and he has reserved the private office only once.
The space that the architects had originally intended to be his
corner office became a cool lounge area with comfy, inviting
seats that all can use.
While these organizations invested significantly to meet high
standards, HR professionals can embrace some of the same
concepts at minimal cost by taking baby steps to become more
green and improve workplace culture as well as employee productivity, health and well-being.
“There’s always a starting point,” Davis says. “As an HR professional, [I found that] undertaking this project really opened
my eyes to a lot of things that can be beneficial to employees that
may not necessarily always have a dollar value associated with
it but they make a huge difference,” Davis says.
Melanie Padgett Powers is a freelance writer and editor in the
Washington, D.C., area.
While these organizations invested
significantly to meet high standards, HR
can embrace some of the same concepts at
minimal cost to become more green.