Enhancing Performance with an Overlooked Resource: Physical Space

  • Brian Ferguson
  • April 24, 2020


Elite athletes have locker rooms. Performing artists have green rooms. Fighter pilots have ready rooms. What if surgical teams received the same resource – sacred space – invaluable for extraordinary performance under pressure? In collaboration with Instinct Laboratory, Arena Labs is helping hospitals create space for the demands of surgical operations.

Our partner, a US-based Level 1 Trauma Center, recognized staff need to relax, recharge, and energize both before and after surgical operations.


In consultation with leadership, staff, and facilities planners, we co-created a low-cost design blueprint requiring no capital campaign or long-term investment in new space: the repurposing of space. Designed to enhance performance through supporting both preparation and decompression activities, the schematic further accounts for staff seeking quiet as well as those wanting the energy of interaction.


Most health care institutions look at physical space as a long-term capital investment. Hospitals will spend millions of dollars on patient waiting areas, staff lounges, and building entrances with the intention of these spaces lasting 10-15 years. The wear-and-tear of patient volume, family traffic, and staff turnover lends itself to many of these spaces not lasting as long as intended. More importantly, these long-term investments begin to feel stale after several years.

Perception of environment plays a strong influence on wellness, outlook, and performance. Our aim is to shift thinking from long-term, massive investments to short-term, economical investments that allow for updated aesthetic and change to keep staff spaces feeling new and fresh.