Buildings are designed to serve people, but the fact is that everyone is different. When we consider factors like age, size, physical and sensorial abilities, there is a wide range of variation. Universal design takes this into account and aims to accommodate everyone.
Universal design is an inclusive way to think about spaces and create environments that respect diversity. This broad concept is being applied to offices and workplaces throughout the country with increasing frequency. Learn how your business can benefit from an office made according to the principles of universal design.
What is Universal Design?
Universal design is a design concept focused on creating spaces that can be accessed and utilized by all types of people, according to the Center for Excellence in Universal Design. Rather than being an afterthought or a reason for renovations later, accessibility is part of the original plan for the building. The space is designed – from the beginning – to meet the needs of everyone who will use it. At the heart of universal design is the knowledge that everyone benefits from living or working in a pleasurable environment.
Why Is Universal Design Good for Business?
Universal design takes into account the various activities, technology and equipment that will be used by people carrying out different job functions in the building. Ultimately, when universal design is successfully applied to professional spaces, it’s good for business. A space that facilitates movement, communication and comfort increases employee efficiency and customer satisfaction.
An office created with these smart design features makes a positive statement about your company. Others will perceive the business as being more forward-thinking, inclusive and human.
From a financial perspective, implementing universal design specifications can add up quickly. Following these principles when renovating or building a new office, however, will reduce the need for costly retrofits in the future. It will also increase the value of a commercial property when it comes time to sell.
How Does Universal Design Benefit Customers?
Accessibility means that the building is more welcoming to all different types of customers. There are about 54 million Americans live with a disability; this includes issues with mobility, sight and hearing. Not included in this number are the millions of senior citizens and aging baby boomers.
Offering a space that prioritizes comfort and communication will help your business provide services for customers with disabilities and everyone else who steps into the building. Your business will show that it welcomes clients with specific needs and special circumstances.
How Does Universal Design Benefit Employees?
Each employee, and prospective new staff member, has certain abilities and limitations. By acknowledging this, universal design aims to improve efficiency, collaboration and communication for everyone that uses the building. Universally accessible spaces both improve safety and reduce the risk of injury for everyone. The design concept promotes inclusiveness and makes it possible to hire the best employees for the job, despite their diverse set of needs.
Is Universal Design Different from Accessibility Regulations?
Many public buildings already have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations that impact renovation projects and new buildings for schools, medical facilities, banks, restaurants and stores. Universal design goes beyond the legal requirements for handicap accessibility. Rather than offer special spaces that are modified to be more accessible, smart design enables everyone to comfortably use the same spaces.
What Is Involved in Universal Design for Office Spaces?
When applied to offices, universal design considers all of the following:
- The overall work environment,
- Individual workstations,
- Equipment used by staff, such as computers, safety gear and tools,
- The different types of work activities,
- Movement and interaction within the building,
- Communication between employees and clients,
- Workplace policies,
How Can an Office Be Modified with the Universal Design Concept?
As the name suggests, universal design touches nearly every aspect of a building. Here are some more specific examples of how it can be applied:
- Improved lighting,
- Wider doorways and aisles,
- Allowing more space for maneuvering,
- Adjustable workstations,
- Ergonomic furniture,
- Open spaces for wheelchair accessibility at tables,
- Automatic doors,
- Accessible handles, switches, buttons and faucets,
- Multi-sensory alarms,
- Elevators and ramps,
- Braille on signs marking restrooms and exits.
Enhance Your Business with Universal Design
Accessibility is an important aspect of interior design for office spaces. These days, it is a big concern for business owners and the motivation behind many commercial remodeling and renovation projects.
It’s possible to improve safety and efficiency for your staff, while also meeting ADA requirements and increasing the value of the property. Schedule a consultation with the experienced commercial contractors at ACA Remodeling. We can help your company find the right accessibility solutions for any office building, while respecting budget restrictions.