PHOTOVOICE STUDY

Investigating human factors in the evolv1 green office building

What could be done to further promote wellbeing at evolv1?

As explored in previous themes, there are many elements that are key in maintaining employee wellness and promoting overall wellbeing. Many of these elements can be further prioritized and leveraged to support the people who inhabit the building, while keeping in harmony with the sustainability and professional goals of the building.

Theme 1: Harness the restorative role of nature and optimize human-centered design

Nature is seen as restorative, calming, and a key part of a good day, especially when one is stressed or overwhelmed. Wellbeing can be positively impacted by natural surroundings, community connection, and effective building elements; it can be negatively impacted by annoying or distracting building elements, or a disharmony between how you work and your surroundings.

To further promote wellbeing, increase opportunities to interact directly with nature to harness the restorative and calming effects of outdoor (walks, sitting outdoors, active commuting) and indoor nature (plants on desks and in offices, windows with views to green grounds and plants/flowers). 

“Even just creating a little space where people can go outside, experience the sun and like have some plants, that’s important as well for wellbeing of the occupants.

“To not have a place that is inviting not only for the tenants but for the public and the community, it just kind of reminds you of where priorities really do lay.”

“The building itself kind of has this essence of living things with the green wall inside, with the natural colours inside, yet outside it’s very barren. It feels kind of isolating because you’re just in the middle of nowhere.”

“I think opening the door for people to make their workspace a little bit more personal to have, you know, little plants on the desk or have a photo or funky mug that you like. I think there’s so much that can be done to just add some colour into this type of space. I think greenery and colour is really missing, but it just makes such a big impact having that.”

Potted plants in evolv1 atrium
Pond and natural area behind the evolv1 building

Focus on the messages and feelings the design promotes and increase the elements that increase sustainable/green messaging and wellbeing-promoting designs (e.g., indoor plants, artwork, colourful surroundings) 

“It would be nice to see more space dedicated towards natural landscapes and natural beings. Because I think that promotes wellbeing and reminding you of being connected to nature while you’re within the building.”

“I used to be in the main office, but it was just so boring and bleak and I wanted to have a view and be able to feel that connection with the outside, so I moved out of the office. And being able to have a plant and the outside and then be able to people-watch sometimes as well and just watch the cars going by, or maybe there’s some nature, that makes me happy to be able to see that.”

“If we had more greenery outside and then plaques or signs for green education and the café; I feel like those features would just draw more people to the different spaces of the building, so you would see more people in the common areas, rather than just in their respective offices.”

Theme 2: Optimize feelings of social connection

When there are natural and accessible ways to socialize, that creates feelings of connection and community, which promotes wellbeing. When these are missing, the loss is felt and it seems like something is wrong. Inaccessibility and unwelcome feelings hinder the sense of belonging.

To further promote wellbeing, reconsider the function, furniture, and décor of spaces within and around evolv1 to more actively and explicitly promote social connection and community building, including for building visitors. 

“So in the back area there now, you see that there’s throw pillows. There’s actually some blankets around thrown over the couches and it just made a whole world of difference making it a bit more cozy and homelike and I feel like more people actually started using this space, I feel like it welcomed more use of the area, making it more inviting.”

“I think the seating area on the first floor is disappointing because you can see it’s not an opportunity to have coffee. So, I don’t see that it would be a destination for my colleagues to come and visit because there isn’t that, you know, coffee type capability there. It’s just, it feels like it’s missing something.

“Ideally, maybe there would be things that are going on that people could get involved with or things that we’re doing in the building, just something that’s more, like bringing people together.

Chairs, desk and couch in the evolvGREEN space
Potted plant by evolv1 window

“If you see that what you care about, if you care about it, it will be implemented, then it helps you care more and do more. And I feel like there’s a sense of pride and celebration when we work together and we create the world we want.

“If all the aspects of sustainability and wellbeing that I cared about have been addressed, I would feel thrilled; I would feel empowered; and so I would feel great. I would feel heard and I would feel that this is a community where we can work together and challenge ourselves and create more sustainability.”

“When you go to a workplace where you’re sometimes spending more time there than you do at home, and it’s somewhere where you don’t have control of, it’s nice to have either the options or just the opportunity to have your voice heard and say like, ‘I’m not comfortable, this could be changed, etc.’ because you should feel comfortable where you’re supposed to be working every day.”

Theme 3: Increase empowerment and recognition

Citizens value and appreciate sustainable efforts, but those efforts may conflict with their comfort or productivity. Working with citizens to recognize their wellbeing needs to empower them can help to co-create a sustainable and wellbeing supportive environment.

To further promote wellbeing:

  • Create new and deepen existing mechanisms for wellbeing engagement within evolv1, including clear processes for considering and enacting new ideas for wellbeing, to empower building citizens in engaging with the development initiatives that promote wellbeing and positive mental health.
  • Balance sustainable initiatives with the impact they have on the wellbeing of the citizens. Citizens value and appreciate sustainable efforts, but those efforts may conflict with their comfort or productivity.
  • Increase opportunities to participate in and co-create sustainability in the building, so citizens have ownership, buy-in, pride, personal value, and meaning in the sustainable actions, and so they have a choice to voice where sustainable initiatives are creating tension with their wellbeing. 

Note on panel captions: All captions that you see on the panels are based on participant reflections from the study itself, and have been de-identified and approved for sharing publicly in this exhibit by participants. Bolded text in the panel captions was done by the researchers, to draw attention to key components of participants’ reflections.