Environment, health or pleasure: how does active design engage employees?

With the Olympic Games just around the corner, some of our customers are wondering about the benefits of Active Design in their workspaces, a method that encourages people to act naturally. While this practice has been commonplace on our streets for some years now, as a way of combating sedentary lifestyles, it is now taking root on the premises of some companies.

In addition to mobility, can it move the boundaries and inspire new, more virtuous practices? For the environment, for health or just for fun, how can premises help to support organizations' environmental commitments, QWL or values, while taking care of their employees?

Eric Vermande, Image and Style Director, and Diane Mendes, People & Transformation Manager, took an interest in the subject.

Example of active design

Example of active design

Active Design, the path to new uses (at full speed).

Who hasn't preferred to climb the stairs in the metro, rather than take the escalator, seduced by a fun, colorful or interactive challenge? These messages of calories burned, rewarding or educational, even if they make us smile, encourage us to take action.

In order to combat sedentary lifestyles, Active Design has mainly developed around solutions encouraging sport. And yet, if athletics tracks are appearing in corridors, their role is to create pathways, designed to activate employees in a natural way. However, the aim is not to get them to run around in suits and arrive at meetings with wet shirts. Physical activity is one of the levers, but not the only one. Brain activity is just as important.

Active Design will support companies' key messages on a day-to-day basis. It can help all organizations in their practices. CSR implementation, for example. Active Design can help with this.

Beyond that, we can imagine paths that contribute to well-being (QCVT), instill values (employer branding), or new ways of working (flex-office).

Active Design is all about the natural adoption of practices, whatever they may be.

Induce to act, from path to experience, everything has to be created

The notion of a journey is important for creating an experience and initiating new habits.

This route must be self-supporting and desirable. Every user must be able to use it at any time of day, without explanation.

Everything is done to induce and create an incentive environment that will become part of everyday life. The message is positive, educational, consistent with values and rewarding for those who follow it.

Example of active design

Example of active design

Create a new playground where employees can play together

We start with values and semantics. We get away from counting calories to play with the employee, projecting him or her into a dynamic.

Graphics are a real lever: explicit or implicit, they create flows. Paths with active and directional phases... Beyond the physical effort, the important thing is to encourage contact with as many people as possible.

Displays, signage, frescoes, misappropriation of objects: all avenues can be explored.

Follow a blue thread that leads to activities, for example. Or object detour where you don't see the same message depending on how you're positioned (sitting, standing), in a spirit of open-mindedness.

It's also important to work on branding to create a sense of belonging. While the use of colors helps to create the desire for discovery, the ideal is to create itineraries that integrate naturally into the space. Induce a perennial positioning as well as a more ephemeral perception of events.

Steps to long-term commitment

A habit is created after 21 days.

In addition, studies carried out by towns and cities show the importance of designing evolving routes, to avoid abandoning the practice once the discovery phase is over.

Step 1: Understanding objectives and challenges

The first step is to identify your objectives. You don't do active design for active design's sake. Are we creating one or more career paths? Are we going to act on CSR, values, QWL?

Step 2: Analysis of usage and employee needs

We need to adapt to the audience and the corporate culture in order to raise awareness.

This means understanding what affects them. In the same way as for an employee journey, we're going to look at habits. As experts in space planning, Parella's teams analyze the sequencing of the day, needs and movements. This will enable us to create active, directional phases. It's important to think carefully about usage to avoid over-solicitation, which would be counter-productive.

But also perhaps to identify those that can be diverted and give meaning, by involving employees in dynamic, unifying and fun workshops.

Step 3: Use and evolution phase

Experimentation could be a first step towards understanding the maturity peak and seeing how employees react.

Depending on the challenges and needs identified, managerial support can be provided to allow employees to have some fun. The program can also be punctuated with activities such as sports coaching.

It's also possible to make courses come alive in line with important corporate events.

We could also imagine a color change for Breast Cancer Week. Or a launch with the Olympic Games.

Scalable for lasting change

It must be easy and inexpensive to set up and take down courses, so as to be able to offer new experiences that adapt to different user maturities. Relying on specialists in the field of change management enables us to create evolving pathways that anchor change in the corporate world for the long term.