By Catherine Reus
March is the month of women. Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Since March is the month to highlight these great achievements, we wanted to take some time to discuss how women impact our strategically designed spaces.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 50% of the civilian workforce is female—an approximate 24% rise since WWII. This has created changes in many aspects of our culture, but more specifically, it has impacted the way NewGround builds working environments. The designs of corporate headquarters have primarily remained the same for the better part of a century, but in recent years there have been more and more studies relating to employee happiness and comfort in relation to their productivity and how that can be improved through design. Both genders can benefit from environments such as meditation spaces, increased natural light, fitness centers, and healthier food choices.
Additionally, women can benefit from more specialized features to make their working environment more comfortable and convenient. According to one of our senior project architects, one feature of a headquarters space that largely gets overlooked—but can create a significant impact—is the bathroom. Though it is the most price conscious, the standard bathroom stall doesn’t afford the privacy or comfort that women desire when visiting the restroom. NewGround architects are conscientious about this and design bathrooms that have individual toilet closets with full-length doors. Though it may initially pose a larger cost, the benefits are soon realized in the comfort of employees.
A Mother's Room
Another feature that is becoming standard in all of our headquarters designs is a mother’s room, or lactation room. According to the same source, 70% of mothers with children under 18 years of age participate in the labor force, with more than 75% employed full-time. We have found that having the luxury of a designated—and private—space to take care of a new mother’s needs while at the office can make a positive impact.
Workplace safety standards began as early as the 1700s and have evolved ever since. To this day, money is spent on finding ways to improve physical safety and prepare employees for dangerous events. What about emotional safety? NewGround improves areas that historically have been seen as uncomfortable spaces—particularly for women—such as staircases and private offices. The typical office staircase is dark, narrow, enclosed and is usually not used unless an emergency arises. Our architects have revolutionized the way a staircase is used and where it is placed. We make the staircase a feature—an open and bright area that invites employees to not only walk them but use them as an alternative collaboration space. This solution also eliminates a potential emotional safety hazard. The same goes for private offices. We design private offices with partial or full glass walls that give the privacy needed for the occupant while also eliminating the stress that may accompany being in an enclosed space with a fellow employee.
Catherine Reus is manager of Client Experience with NewGround.