Achieving your job role, kicking goals and meeting KPI targets promotes feelings of satisfaction, enjoyment, optimism and wellbeing. The average person now spends over a quarter of their week in the office. Therefore the quality of the workspace you provide your employees is a way to demonstrate that you care for and value the health and wellbeing of your staff.
Worldwide there is an increasing awareness of the importance of mental health, supporting well-being of employees in the workplace and the effect that the workplace can have on overall staff health. In the recent ‘Workplace Wellbeing Index’ study conducted by Mind Charity which surveys staff and gives them the opportunity to share their experiences of organisational culture and support around workplace mental health, data showed that organisations creating the right environment for their staff can have a positive impact on employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as their job satisfaction and productivity levels.
Aesthetic and functionality are still and continue to be important design considerations. However, how much a space supports user’s changing needs and experiences is now an equally important design component.
We’ve broken down just a few ways you can alter the design of your workplace to create a physically and mentally healthy workplace for everyone in your team.
For many working from home comes with the ease of being able to better balance work and life demands. Less commuting time for many meant more time for physical activity, time to spend on home cooking or socialising with family and friends. With many of us now back to increasing our hours spent in the office, there is a residual desire to uphold the same wholesome work life balancing activities that working from home once allowed. Expectations for accommodating this are falling on employers and we are increasingly seeing employees demanding better workplace facilities.
Requests for heightened hospitality facilities, wellbeing rooms, spaces for physical activity and access to fitness services at work are all things we are seeing designed into the workplace more often. Having designated spaces for mindfulness is great for those under stress or those who need some quiet time. These can come in the form of mediation rooms, sleep pods, wellness rooms, libraries etc. These changes mean the workplace becomes no longer just a destination for work but where you can do other daily activities such as going to the gym.
Optimising workplace wellbeing facilities should start with discovering how your employers feel they work most effectively and what facilities will enable them to do so. It’s important to consider additional elements that cater to physical, mental and social wellbeing to create fulfilling places to work.
Tying in natural environmental elements into a workplace has many great physical and mental benefits. Studies show that exposure to nature can improve productivity by 6% and increase creativity by 15%. Employees who are exposed to natural elements while at work also report a 15% high level of overall wellbeing.
One way to do this is through the incorporation of biophilia. Biophilic design responds to the direct needs of us humans to be in contact with nature. And we’re able to live a healthier and happier life because of this.
Whether it’s planters or green walls, having some biophilia has major positive physical and psychological benefits. It’s said that plants enhance memory retention, deter illness, and promote clear-air breathing. Feeling connected to nature can ultimately lead to happier and healthier employees. Whilst the incorporation of vibrant green creates a positive and engaging atmosphere for users.
If real planting isn’t an option, then there are connections with nature that you can include as an alternative. This can be through mimicking natural forms, sounds, materials, colours, or patterns, also known as biomimicry. You can learn more about biophilia in the workplace here.
Some spaces are fortunate enough to have more access to natural light than others. So, taking advantage of any light that your space gets is really important. Being able to see outside when in the office can have a positive effect on mood and morale whilst also helping to brighten up a space.
Physical health and mental health are linked. Having physical health issues can take a toll on your mental wellbeing. So, ensuring your workplace is designed in a way that supports physical health is really important. If the activities conducted within your workplace can be good for physical wellbeing, you can help keep your workers healthy. This could help drive employee engagement and potentially reducing staff absences due to ill health.
There are many ways that you can ensure this. These can include suitable, comfortable and ergonomic furniture that meets all the necessary requirements. An example of this could be sit stand desks. Sit-stand desks are height-adjustable desks that allow users to alternate between sitting and standing at work. A recent study found that users of adjustable workstations reported improvement in upper back and neck pain and increased productivity.
Another way to promote physical health is to design your workplace to ensure the flow and layout of your office encourages movement. Encourage your staff to take short breaks to stretch and walk around the office. An activity based working style office encourages people to make small changes to their working style depending on the activity they are conducting and this allows for more freedom of movement throughout their day.
Inclusive design is defined as being usable by as many people as possible without the need for specialised adaptation. This means designing a space where users can fill their role requirements without having to ask for specialist support.
The most important part of this is understanding your team and their needs. This is because every business and team are different and there isn’t a one size fits all option. Whether it’s physical or personality differences, make sure your space is as accessible to everyone as possible.
Some examples of ways to do this include the ability to alter light and sound settings to those who may be more sensitive. Or offering various working environments and high energy vs low energy zones for those who have different working preferences. Or by using a colour scheme that won’t hinder anyone’s productivity or focus.
As well as being beneficial to your current team members, an inclusive workplace also opens your business to a larger talent pool. Ensuring your workplace doesn’t hinder your choice of future employees. An inclusive office shows your commitment your team’s wellbeing making your business a more appealing one to work for. You can learn more about designing an inclusive workplace here.
As workplace designers with the power to transform spaces and implement positive change, we understand that offices for the future must be happy and healthy environments for your team. Offices continue to evolve and when designed and used correctly can be grounds for increased productivity and wellbeing.
Designing an office that optimises workplace wellbeing will not only offer solutions to these challenges but help to attract and retain top talent, boost productivity and inspire innovation.
Get in touch today to learn more – firstname.lastname@example.org