Office redesigns that optimize on health and wellbeing

Your business may take pride in being a good employer. Even if you have the best of intentions, the way you structure your job could be harming your employees’ health and well-being. Working circumstances and workplace demands are a major cause of stress for many and research has shown that workplace design has a considerable impact on employee well-being and health, as well as health-care costs.

The good news for managers is that there are practical ways to reorganize work to promote well-being while also benefiting the organization in the long run. Recent research, for example, suggests that proactively modifying working conditions to promote worker well-being can result in positive business outcomes such as higher job performance (including increased productivity) and decreased levels of employee burnout.

Here are some ways to support health and well being for your employees when they are at the office:

Incorporate Biophilic Elements

There are many benefits to incorporating and embracing biophilic design.  Research has shown that bringing nature into the workplace is healthy for employee well-being.  Some of the benefits from it are increased concentration, creativity, increased productivity while overall lowering stress levels.

How to achieve this:

  • Incorporate natural lighting and create windows so that each workspace has a view of the outside
  • Greenery and natural décor elements can be placed strategically especially within the reception area to welcome guests and visitors. Neutral tones, wood finishes, and dried plants or preserved moss could be strategically decorated on the walls

Accommodate Diverse Work Modes or Preferences

Our bodies are built for movement.  Sitting for long periods of time can be linked to various health issues that include visual symptoms, muscle pain, poor blood circulation, and obesity.  If sitting all day presents such risks, others argue that standing is the better option. However, standing up all day comes with its own set of risks, including lower extremity soreness, lower back pain, and overall fatigue.   As work necessitates sitting, standing, and/or moving, the ideal workplace environment should provide employees with options to sit or stand in their workspace. As a result, the atmosphere is beneficial to both the mind and the body reducing worker discomfort.  To combat this, a simple solution is to implement height-adjustable chairs and desks for your team.

Create Lounge Areas for Relaxation

One of the key reasons people prefer modern office lounge areas is because it offers a home’s comfort together with the office experience.  The unique office design and furniture that eliminates the boring office setting puts lounge areas at the top of the list of the more comfortable areas to work.  But we can take the lounge area a step further.  Designing lounge areas that are solely dedicated to relaxation and stress reduction.

Some ideas include:

Technology-free rooms – furnished with a fireplace, checking in the phone upon entry or completely turning off our phones can really help to de-stress. So often we feel tethered to our phones and devices throughout the week, sadly sometimes even after business hours.  The ability to detach for a few minutes, or even to give ourselves permission to disengage, can help us relax in ways that no amount of relaxation apps can match.

Rest areas – if you have some staff members who have been logging in extended hours, a quick power nap may be the solution or a cup of tea/coffee sitting in a comfortable chair can help perk you up and get you on with the rest of the day.

For some employers, there is worry about too much relaxation at the work place.  This can be easily addressed by setting time limits and notifications on availabilities of these work amenities throughout the week. 

Nurturing Employee Relationships

Communal zones for socialization during breaks is an important part of the day for those returning to the office.  Improving on inclusion policies mean better engagement and employee retention. Group spaces that allow for social conversation and larger group meetings will be essential in the new working norm and it will be more important for organizations to see the long-term value in establishing these new social areas.  The best way to deal with communal design is to appoint certain employees as representatives and assign them the task of coming up with a design on their own so that the space is actually utilized. Managers should communicate their ideas for what the space could be used for, give them a budget, and then sit back and watch them transform the space into something useful.

The days of traditional office layouts are over. Many are saying goodbye to dull and daunting designs and saying hello to new ways of working in environments that are inviting and productive.

By considering what your organization needs from the office environment moving forward, you can create an optimal experience for everyone.