Ethonomics: Active Design

In 2015, Teknion released a paper called Ethonomics: Designing for the Principles of the Modern Workplace. As a leading international designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative workplace interiors, the company explored how design can impact employee happiness and the question—What does well-being and productivity mean to today’s workforce?

Ethonomics presents the theory that there may be a formula for designing workplace happiness. This formula includes:

  1. Design for Balance – Offer varied experiences across a floorplate
  2. Design for Choice – Account for changing work modes throughout the day
  3. Active Design – Promote movement
  4. Human-Centered Design – Create a rich sensory experience and connections to the outdoors
  5. Design for Collaboration – Support groups as they scale in: size, formality, tech needs, learning styles

As part of that formula, Active Design focuses on promoting individual movement in the office environment. As a greater topic Active Design is being applied by urban planners to build movement into communities through engaging streetscapes, pedestrian-oriented developments and neighborhood parks. So how can we design office environments with that same mentality?

According to the Ethonomics paper, “The human body is built to move. It follows that the human-centered workplace should provide people with the opportunity for physical activity; with a choice among working postures as well as workspaces. Alert, engaged and healthy workers are most often those who are afforded a stimulating and inspiring work environment that encourages movement—to sit, stand and walk around.”

While the paper shares some of the detriments of sitting, simple providing the option to stand is not the solution. As with most things, moderation and balance is a better approach. The paper offers a few suggestions for how employees can add movement into their daily routine in a variety of ways:

  • Pace while talking on the phone, organizing papers or eating lunch.
  • Stand at a sit/stand desk—or take your laptop over to a high countertop.
  • Walk, rather than gathering around a table, for a meeting.
  • Program your phone to remind you to change position every half an hour.
  • Take a break—stand up, stretch and stroll over to the coffee bar.
  • Walk to work or at least to the bus stop or train platform. Where possible, join co-workers on the volleyball court, take a yoga or Zumba class or simply use your lunch hour to walk to a plaza or stroll through a park.

Schroeder Solutions worked with Skyline Technologies, the Midwest’s premier provider of information technology and digital marketing consulting services, to create not only a “cool” office space, but an office that was collaborative, active and vibrant. The design solution promotes movement by offering a variety of collaborative spaces with opportunities to sit or stand while meeting in private, semi-private and casual settings. Bean bag toss and Pop-A-Shot games in the lounge encourage physical activity and quick breaks throughout the day.

If you are interested in learning more Ethonomics and integrating Active Design principles into your workspace, contact: 877-676-9346. You can find information referenced in this article by visiting:

In the spring issue we will discuss Human-Centered and Biophilic Design. Stay tuned!