feeling good in a space that feels good
In recent years, more and more companies are adopting a sustainability-oriented ‘philosophy’ along with ESG principles as an embedded part of their strategy.
This acronym is based on three main concepts, namely Environmental, Social e Governance
and it refers to an actual rating, based on a specific set of criteria such as environmental commitment, compliance with corporate and employees’ values, accuracy, ethics and transparency in the way the company is run.
It is indeed imperative to make a distinction between the companies undertaking these practices for genuine reasons and those that do so merely to follow fleeting trends, passing fads, or worse, for some greenwashing.
However, there is a growing acknowledgement that such beneficial behaviour can lead to significant benefits, including better risk management, wider access to funds and enhanced corporate reputation. It is now well established that companies that embrace ESG sustainability do not only contribute to the common good, but are also more resilient and competitive in the marketplace.
It is abundantly clear how this trickles down into many areas of the office industry, including the contemporary approach to workplaces, which devotes an ever-growing focus on the employees’ well-being of any organisation. As a matter of fact, trends in workplace design reflect this profound cultural transformation, aiming to create spaces that not only increase productivity, but also improve the quality of life of employees and help keep the natural ecosystem in balance.
A comfortable and healthy workplace is a key factor to stimulate creativity, improve mindset and employee retention.
In a fine synthesis cherished by architect Paolo Pampanoni, Etoile’s long-time collaborator, the aim to strive for is to ‘feeling good in a space that feels good’.
This can only be achieved if we take into account the close connection among individual well-being, the quality of space, the quality and features of materials and objects in use, applied sustainability, pollution and environmental quality.
There are indeed numerous reasons behind unhealthy office conditions, which must be removed or mitigated as much as possible when designing workplaces and working rooms in general:
- Noise pollution: Excessive noise in the workplace can be a source of stress and reduced concentration;
- Lighting pollution: inadequate or excessive lighting can cause visual fatigue and affect employees’ circadian rhythm;
- Wrong design: A non-optimised arrangement of spaces is at the root of many critical issues that can affect productivity;
- Environmental pollution: the presence of harmful chemicals and harmful volatile organic compounds in working spaces can have a negative influence on the health of employees.
This said, based on the experience of industrial design, a whole series of solutions can be borrowed to promote acoustic, lighting, postural, environmental and thermo-hygrometric well-being. The same use of innovative materials (acoustic textiles, eco-active ceramics, fabrics made from recycled PET or wool, etc.) skillfully combined with natural and traditional materials (such as wood and glass), can be the right medium to reduce the above-mentioned critical aspects.
And lastly, with the climate crisis becoming an increasing concern, sustainability has become a global imperative, as above mentioned at length regarding ESG principles.
To this end, the use of materials with a low environmental impact is key, in line with the best biophilic design, paying particular attention to the consumption of natural resources, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the preservation of biodiversity.
Likewise, it is necessary to change habits towards responsible design, with a view to a circular economy that facilitates the disassembly and recyclability of materials.
Choosing modular solutions with interchangeable and easily reconfigurable parts can help extending the products’ lifetime and reducing waste and wastage.
The implementation of newly developed heating and cooling systems, together with LED lighting solutions, can also significantly optimise a company’s overall energy balance by improving its carbon footprint.
In conclusion, the desirable balance between real sustainability and individual comfort, which we have tried to outline so far, can be well summarised in the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, which calls for responsible production achieved through environmentally and people-friendly procedures, thanks to advanced technologies and a careful selection of materials and suppliers. This supply chain bases its principles on effective business management governed by a shared, planet-friendly and socially beneficial ethical code.