In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Rives Taylor is an architect and principal at Gensler (Houston), where he helps lead the firm’s sustainable design practice and works with cities to develop more livable neighborhoods and sustainable water management strategies. Here, he shares his thoughts on the challenges for healthcare organizations in incorporating wellness on their campuses.

1. A diverse workforce  has different needs

The healthcare industry encompasses great diversity in age, ethnicity, and talent. Given this fact, there’s no single design solution for staff environments. Many medical facilities have well-thought-out spaces for patients and visitors, but the areas reserved for medical staff are often pretty dismal. How can we rethink healthcare facilities so that both patients and staff are immersed in a healthy environment?

2. Setting new targets for healthcare workplaces

Healthcare employees should be afforded the same design focus and quality in their environments as enjoyed by corporate office workers.  Imagine what improvements could be made if the same focus on anthropomorphic and psychological well-being could be employed in healthcare. These design tactics support:

It starts with a conversation about the value of human happiness, engagement, and "presentee-ism” (being at a higher level of productivity).” These performance targets are best accomplished during space programming or early design inception to align mission delivery with facility investment.

3. Taking lessons from the corporate sector

Nine-out-of-ten private sector workers agree that workplace design affects productivity, according to 2014 research by Gensler. It’s also been proven that sustainably designed environments can reduce sick days for an employee by 2 to 5 days annually. Many corporate clients also believe a more engaging and fun workplace provides them with a competitive advantage.

When was the last time the C-suite/hospital administration took a hard look at providing a better work environment and the increasingly validated impacts on well-being? Our profession talks extensively about design factors that lead to improvements in health outcomes.  For example, research in patient satisfaction and wellbeing shows the power of biophilia in the patient room. What about the healthcare workplace? Healthcare owners need to think of design as a way to boost employee job performance, recruitment, and retention.

4. Outcome-based design

Healthcare is far ahead of many other industries in the application of metrics to facility performance. Why not apply similar emphasis on workspaces for healthcare teams? Can this leadership of measureable performance-based design reach across to the healthcare delivery team environments?

5. Everyday wellness can lead to better outcomes

Sustainability has been on our radar for a number of years, but now is the time to elevate the indoor environmental quality focus to all. The safety focus can easily translate to the everyday wellness/healthfulness of the work environment to transform the work experience. Much has been written and researched about controlling healthcare costs by looking at staff expense or team efficiencies. Why not focus on healthcare providers’ own quality of work environment affecting their own healthcare outcomes?

Rives Taylor

Want to share your Top Five? Contact senior editor Anne DiNardo at for submission instructions.