Designing Workspaces to Support Caregivers

Spaces that enhance the well-being of individuals and teams

Even before the pandemic, burnout was common among healthcare workers. Now, the US clinical workforce faces unparalleled levels of stress. The New England Journal of Medicine describes it as “a surge of physical and emotional harm that amounts to a parallel pandemic.” To safeguard the health and well-being of providers, nurses, aides, and administrative staff, we must design healthcare spaces with increased intention. 

The new Haworth Health Pavilion at our global headquarters showcases how workspace design can support caregivers.


“The designs for healthcare are really about empowering the caregiver. We provide spaces where they can flourish—and be safe and healthy.”

Rod Vickroy
Haworth Health Consultant


Designed for Workflow and Team Support

Research shows caregivers are working in teams to a greater degree than before. Healthcare spaces designed in the past lacked the support necessary for collaboration. When the workspace itself hinders teamwork and person-to-person interaction, the space becomes a source of stress for caregivers.

The Haworth Health Pavilion design addresses the need for collaboration and respite spaces—as well as the use of natural light—necessary to reduce caregiver stress.

Collaboration
Whether tasks involve individual focus work like charting, communicating across a nurses’ station, or engaging in team huddles and check-in meetings, the care team hub anchors the design. Flexible elements like decentralized workstations equipped with monitor arms, sit-to-stand tables, and adjustable seating offer support for individual caregivers and group needs—marrying the high-tech with high touch.

Respite Spaces
Designing for the caregiver includes providing respite spaces—places for the mind and body to rest. “Respite spaces include the staff room where teams often establish collegial relationships,” explains Rod. Camaraderie is further built around community tables, café tables, and outdoor spaces.

Natural Light
Natural light—through the use of translucent material or slats—is a key element in creating a supportive caregiver workspace. Research has shown that an additional way to reduce workplace stress is to give people control over their physical workspace. The Haworth Health Pavilion demonstrates how caregivers can control the natural light available—from full light to a more relaxing dim.

Supporting Telemedicine
Between January and June 2020, telemedicine visits increased a staggering 2,000%. As a result, clinicians are spending more hours sitting, listening through headsets, and typing. Research has shown that movement in small bouts can improve well-being and reduce stress. The Haworth Health Pavilion features height-adjustable tables and chairs that allow caregivers to change postures throughout the day—and enclosed workstations that provide the privacy required for confidential patient conversations.  

Durability and Disinfection
Protecting the health of the people who enter a healthcare space requires frequent disinfection. The tables, desks, and seating in the Haworth Health Pavilion were selected for their durability and cleanability. “Yes, the space is safe and can be cleaned, but it’s also an incredible space to experience. There’s this ability to harness the power of design to support the mission and values of an organization, as well as the people,” says Rod.

Lead by Example
Ignoring caregiver burnout can lead to higher healthcare costs, employee disengagement, and increased employee turnover. “If the caregivers are well-supported, you will have healthy caregivers,” says Rod.

Designing space for collaboration and respite—as well as the use of natural light—will reduce caregiver stress. To discover more about the latest Haworth designs that support caregivers, read the Haworth Health Pavilion case study.  

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