How Your Office Design Can Affect Your Employees' Wellbeing - 1 October 2019

How Your Office Design Can Affect Your Employees' Wellbeing

The modern office has moved on from the austere, cubical forms of the past to seriously consider the best environment for staff productivity and well-being. But there's much more to consider than how funky the space should be and which free snacks and bean bags are best.

Regardless of trends, the real change is the understanding of how the office environment can impact employee's health and happiness, which are both key factors in productivity. Contented staff are productive staff.

The way offices are laid out can help employees feel comfortable and calm as they go about their tasks. The right environment can help people to focus more effectively.

So, what does this really mean in practice?

Encourage Light

Your employees spend a lot of time in the office. If this space is dark and lit by harsh artificial light it can produce negative health effects. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago, in a study called 'Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity and Quality of Life', found that "there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers' sleep, activity and quality of life." Workers who sat near a window receive 173% more natural light exposure and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.

Natural light has been proven to reduce stress, sick days and illnesses while increasing productivity and focus – all the things you want.

Something as simple as designing office space with lots of windows, or using comforting task lighting can have huge positive impacts on your business. The same goes for keeping the space well ventilated so the temperature isn't overly hot or too cold.

Opt for Open-plan

Quite apart from cost efficiency, there's a good reason why open-plan offices have become the preferred way of working. Expansive spaces have been proven to increase collaboration and create more inclusivity. The free flow of people and ideas improves relationships and teamwork. That said, make sure the space is not overcrowded and pay attention to noise, tidiness and general behaviour.

Preserve Privacy

While open-plan offices are the best overall, if it's practicable, design your space with privacy in mind. This can include meeting rooms and private workspaces for people to meet or work away from the bustle of the main office space.

Carefully Consider Colour

Traditionally, neutral colours are favoured in office spaces. It's now been shown that neutral colours can increase feelings of sadness and depression.

But research from the University of Massachusetts found that bringing colour into an office reduces stress, makes staff more creative and increases the flow of ideas. All the things that you want from a successful office space. So, splash some colour around to harness a positive vibe.

Comfort is Key

Sitting at a desk for hours on end has been proven to induce physical pain and mental health problems. Indeed, HOK reported that 82% of workers experienced physical pain in the neck, back and shoulders while at work. So, budget withstanding, look at providing ergonomic furniture to help your employees stay healthy, happy and efficient.

Also, consider the use of standing tables and adjustable desks as a cost effective alternative to sitting down for meetings.  They might even encourage greater participation and cut down on time wasting.

Social Space

It is essential to create spaces separate from the desks and meeting rooms for people to relax, socialise and unwind. Providing spaces like this can improve employees mental state and give them a place to escape the pressures of work.

Go Green

Bringing some of the outside in, could have tangible benefits to your business! According to some studies, productivity grew by 15% in offices filled with plants, because people who "engage with their surroundings are better workers."

Office greenery also improves air quality, reduces stress and anxiety. According to World Green Building Council, increased fresh air can increase productivity by 11%.

Little Touches Mean a Lot

All this is great, but in modern businesses staff respect more being done for their wellbeing.

According to the Workplace Wellness Trend Report from Fellowes employees look for a healthy environment. 87% suggested they would like their employer to offer health workplace benefits.

Provide clean water from water coolers or fountains, and actively encourage the consumption of lots of water all day. Also, offer healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts to help fuel your staff.

Include facilities such as showers, changing rooms and locker facilities, if possible, to encourage exercise before, during and after the workday. Be flexible with how employees work to allow them to incorporate exercise into their routines.

These simple additions will have long-running benefits for your company productivity.

Offices are so much more than bricks and mortar. They are like home to many during the waking hours every week. How the space feels and what vibe it provides, can create happy and productive people - or the complete opposite.

So, it's worth thinking 'outside' the box a little, when planning your next office move or refresh.....

<< Back