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Picture this: a large coworking environment with collaboration areas, cappuccino bars, and programmable spaces. No, it’s not a Silicon Valley startup, a student union, or even a swanky airport lounge. It’s the next generation of hospital employee break rooms.
After years of optimizing hospital spaces to focus on the patient experience, more health systems are looking at how they can better attract, retain, and support staff, Mike Pukszta, codirector of CannonDesign’s global health practice, told Healthcare Brew.
Instead of traditional locker rooms and segregated lounges—one for doctors and one for nurses—Pukszta said hospital leaders are increasingly acknowledging that medicine is “a team sport” and that employee spaces should reflect that paradigm.
“Everyone’s embracing the interprofessional model of education, where if you’re taking an anatomy class, it’s not just physician anatomy—every care provider that might be touching a patient is taking the same anatomy class; they’re learning together. They’re realizing that they’re actually a team that has to provide care,” he said, adding that traditional hospital models “don’t provide that same level of interprofessional collaboration.”
But that’s starting to change.
The Hub at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus offers staff who forwent their traditional offices a high-end airport lounge type of experience, complete with sleep pods, free snacks, concierge services, and collaboration areas. It’s one example of how CannonDesign, an architecture design firm, has helped health facilities improve employee collaboration, Pukszta said.
The university is now increasing the size of the 9,500-square-foot hub “because they have more desire for people that want to be part of this collaborative environment” instead of being isolated in a more traditional office, he said.
Abbie Clary, codirector of CannonDesign’s global health practice, noted that the design shift reflects a broader focus on employee burnout and mental wellness—issues that came to a head as medical professionals left the field in droves during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“[It’s] understanding what ‘respite’ means and what really does that for you: Not a break room with lockers where people are coming in to go to work and you’re trying to get yourself together,” she said. “Being very intentional around spaces that have access to nature. Maybe they can’t go outside, but nature is culturally inclusive. Having spaces that can be programmable—that I could make it the environment I need for that moment, has access to nature—and being really, really purposeful.”
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