Spending time in a cramped, dark, claustrophobic environment is not a pleasurable experience. There is no hiding that, in a matter of minutes, it can begin to bring about unpleasant effects. This is a ‘modern’ condition named Sick-Building Syndrome, which is responsible for the symptoms you get when you are in a specific building. From headaches and runny noses to rashes and tiredness, there are numerous signs – which worsen as time goes by – that indicate you are in an enclosed space that you are not comfortable in.
A well-planned workspace offers the opportunity to increase productivity and efficiency. Not only that but the layout and design of the office can also improve employee and workplace wellbeing. From airy and colourful rooms to adequately lit spaces, there are several ways in which owners and managers can arrange their work offices to aid their employee’s mental and physical health.
With this in mind, with the help of Westfield Health, we explore the relationship between office design and wellbeing by outlining some of the steps that can be taken to create a better working environment.
Invite light in
The presence – or lack – of natural light inside a building can have a significant impact on people’s mood and overall health. Allowing as much natural light as possible into the office will reduce detrimental physical effects. It has been found that working within ten feet of a window can limit headaches, eye strain, and blurred vision by 84%.
What’s more, natural light has a positive influence on the mind and body. It affects both hormonal activity and circadian rhythms, which in turn play a beneficial role on energy levels, quality of sleep and productivity. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that workstations receive lots of natural light.
There is no hiding that noise can be highly distracting. Can you concentrate on a task if there are several colleagues chatting in the same room? Ultimately, high levels of noise inside the workplace can undermine worker productivity.
One way to tackle this problem is to identify spots inside the office in which employees can enjoy the privacy and calmness they need to thrive. Workplace design can help create breakaway areas and silent booths which will provide team members with the peace and quiet they require to focus.
It is no secret that colour psychology can have a considerable effect on people’s moods. In this respect, advertising and marketing have been making the most of specific chromatic tones for years. You can use the same methods in your workspace too.
For instance, shades of blue can inspire productivity, benefit creativity and promote positivity. As for green, it is the perfect colour to induce relaxation and restfulness. Based on the nature of your profession, you can choose the colours that best suit your duties and work routines.
Fresh air and nature
The quality of air inside the workplace can have a substantial impact on the wellbeing of your employees. In fact, according to recent research by Harvard School of Public Health, fresh air in the office can aid people’s efficiency levels. Air pollution, however, can be associated with reductions in cognitive function.
In this respect, plants can offer some precious support. Not only are they an aesthetically pleasing addition to the workspace, but they naturally purify the air by absorbing CO2 and releasing clean oxygen. Room fresheners are also another valuable option, and some of their fragrances could perk up your employees’ mood and concentration levels. For example, pine intensifies alertness, whereas citrus and peppermint can lift workers’ spirits.
Space to eat and move
Finally, setting aside space where people can eat, drink, and move can work wonders on the morale and wellbeing of your team. Not only is it a way to allow your employees to take breaks from time to time, but it is also an opportunity for your employees to interact and socialise with their fellow colleagues. In the long term, this will facilitate integration and promote a more active culture within the workplace.
Furthermore, it may also be wise to reserve specific rooms for exercise purposes only, whether it is short yoga sessions or some other form of physical activity. Exercising can boost your employees’ wellbeing and productivity, giving them the energy and motivation to take on their daily duties.
The layout and design of your work office can do your team the world of good. As an owner or manager, you may even want to consult your employees on the matter. You could ask: ‘What aspects of your workspace could be improved?’, ‘What additions would help you to perform better?’. In the meantime, we hope that these tips will provide you with the inspiration you need to create a work environment that supports both productivity and wellbeing.