How a strategic office design can affect the wellbeing and productivity of employees

The average person in the UK works 39 hours per week, a substantial proportion of their time, meaning it’s vital that people feel happy and inspired in the workplace1.

The design and layout of an office space can have a major impact on the wellbeing of employees and the work they produce. If the way we work is changing rapidly, so should the surroundings that we work in. Simple factors including lighting, ventilation and ceiling height can increase workplace happiness and efficiency.

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Mark Pinches, Head of Coaching, at Westfield Health, advises businesses on how office design can maximise productivity and improve the mental wellbeing of employees.

  1. Lighting

“People are happier when they are in bright and airy surroundings2. It is therefore important to utilise as much natural lighting as possible and only use artificial fixtures when necessary. A great way to achieve this is to maximise window space and position desks as close to a window as possible. If a space lacks natural light, give it a fresh coat of white paint and fill it with light coloured furniture. This will instantly brighten the space and make staff feel refreshed and productive. Provide employees with desk lamps during winter months to add additional light at a time when they may be likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).”

  1. Standing desks

“Sitting still for eight hours a day is not good for the physical or mental wellbeing of employees. Health issues including heart disease, high blood sugar and obesity can be brought on by sitting down for long periods of time, so it is vital that staff move around whilst in the office3. Standing desks allow employers to stand up comfortably whilst working. This usually allows people to move around different work stations throughout the office, encouraging staff to communicate and collaborate with colleagues they may not normally mix with if they were sat at the same desk every day.”

  1. Quiet spaces for relaxation

“Offer employees quiet areas in the office for them to go to when they feel stressed and over-worked. This can vary from large communal rooms to smaller break out areas or pods and will result in staff feeling calmer and happier whilst at work. If companies are worried about too much relaxation, they can set limits by restricting employees to a 30 minutes slot each day.”  

  1. Tidy life tidy mind

“Keep office space as decluttered as possible to help employees feel organised and less stressed. Introduce a ‘paperless office’ system if this is suitable or encourage monthly clear-outs to give staff the opportunity to organise their desks regularly. This will have a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of employees as working in a neat and clean environment will reduce mental overload and allow them to think clearer.”

  1. Room layout and size

“Effective use of space in an office can have a major impact on the productivity and happiness of workers. Open plan designs are becoming increasingly popular to help colleagues feel less confined and engage with each other regularly. Techniques such as high ceilings give the illusion of a more open space and help maximise light opportunities. Splashes of bright décor can be used to help spark creativity and boost morale of staff.”

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