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  • Writer's pictureLynsey Woods

Design Tips For Workplace Wellbeing

Wellbeing encompasses physical, mental and social wellbeing, and today, we’re now seeing an emerging opportunity to use workplace design to promote a holistic state of wellbeing. When design works in tandem with company culture, it fosters engagement, creativity, innovation, and of course, wellbeing.


There is huge potential for improving and making a positive impact on employee wellbeing through a human-centric approach and design; let’s take a look at a few ways that workplaces can bring this to life:


CREATE A COMMUNITY

With the introduction of the hybrid working model (for most businesses) and individual working arrangements, businesses are currently reimaging the role of the office with culture and community at the top of the priority list. In turn, this influences office design with the new focus on collaboration, socialisation and wellness that can create a sense of community, and more reasons to head back to the office.


Scheduled time for group lunch walks, regular social video chats with remote workers, or daily huddles in a common area will help satisfy the human need for social interactions, which in turn will create a sense of belonging, connection and community.


LET’S GET PHYSICAL

Investing in employee health and fitness has many benefits like increasing blood flow to the brain, boosting energy and alertness, and lifting a mood with endorphins; and it’s no secret you need the right fuel to do your best work to feel energised, focused, and productive.


On a design level, office bike storage, adaptable spaces for exercise and accessible showers, dedicated space for exercise (or quiet time) and designated spaces for mindful eating away from the desk are easy ways businesses can support increased psychological wellness, enhance productivity and retain staff. Where do we sign up?


CHOICE (BRO)

By designing a variety of workspaces around activities, you empower your team to choose the working environments to best support the different types of work they do throughout the day. Called Activity Based Working; small desks for solo working, larger tables for team projects and collaboration, breakout spaces for informal catch-ups, private spaces for formal meetings, quiet places for concentration and ideation, and lounge areas for coffee and social time offers employees choice to work how they want, where they want and when they want.


Choice between sun and shade, stimulation and reflection, connectivity and privacy, will have a massive impact on employee’s mental health and overall wellbeing, not to mention, productivity. Simply put, good design makes for good business.


IN YOUR ELEMENT(S)

When considering workplace wellness, a lot of emphasis is put on the aesthetics and things you can see, but the unsung heroes here are light, air and water.


Access to clean air, and wherever possible, fresh air, contributes to overall employee health. Where office design doesn’t allow for windows to be opened, access to parks and open space nearby is a great way to facilitate staff getting some fresh air throughout the day. Of course temperature control is another important factor, allowing people to exercise some control over their comfort and ensure it’s not too hot or too cold to work effectively.


Another significant environmental factor is light, especially natural light. When designing an office, we recommend maximum natural light throughout the space—incorporating glass walls in meeting rooms for example, or communal spaces near windowed areas. When choosing artificial lights, it is beneficial to think about their placement (as a direct or indirect lighting source), workability, utility and aesthetic appeal.


For companies who are committed to employee wellbeing, as well as sustainability, it’s time to consider how something as simple as proper drinking water supplies can make a huge difference. A recent report on global workplace water consumption found that workers are happier and feel more productive when employers provide better drinking water facilities, not to mention the significant reduction of plastic bottles not going to landfill each year as the result.


The key here is thoughtful planning – what can you implement in your current space to optimise the employee experience, or what would a new design look like? Not sure? Lean on your expert to suggest the best use of your space, aka, us!


GREEN MEANS GO(OD!)

The incorporation of natural elements in environments, referred to as biophilic design, is scientifically proven to benefit concentration, creativity and motivation while reducing stress. Biophilia is much more than adding plants to a space: the theory behind ‘biophilia’ is humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature.


Having a thoughtfully designed workspace, full of natural light and biophilic elements such as natural timbers, natural materials and botanical motifs, sends a powerful message about your social conscience and green-credibility, and that you care about your people. Plus it’ll do wonders for your aesthetics.


MATERIALS DO MATTER

Material choices play a huge role in the look and feel of an office, and more importantly, can influence productivity levels, behaviours and mood.


Believe it or not, 'noise', or 'too much noise' is often one of the biggest bug bears we hear about; which is why an acoustic strategy is an essential part of the design process. Materials such as glass partitions, high sound absorbing wall panels and furniture choices are easy ways to absorb and diffuse noise.


Colour can have a major impact on mood as it can evoke different senses from calm to creativity to concentration. Colour can be injected not only via paint but also through furniture, graphics or even carpeting. Where to start? Select a colour palette that works for your brand and space, that also subtly denotes what the space is designed for. Our recommendation – think before you paint!


Many workplaces are now offering their people a multitude of work set ups to suit the mood, task and individual work style, with many saying the traditional desk is dead (#RIP!). From a supportive chair to adjustable height desks to personal lockers and soft seating; workspaces with furnishings that suit a range of workstyles and ergonomic requirements is a way to increase satisfaction and performance, and support wellbeing.


In closing, the goal is to create a workplace with people at the heart of the design process that supports people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing, and inspires creativity – in turn directly increase business performance and profitability. If that isn’t worth investing in – what is?


We get it, it’s a lot to take it, and also personal to a company and its people. This is our jam, truly, and we’d love to chat through ways to optimise your office design to enhance employee wellbeing – drop us a note below.





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