Good workplace design linked to better mental health

Nov 18, 2014

Our physical environment can have a huge effect on how we feel - both positively and negatively. But what does a well-designed workplace look like, and how can you ensure your business delivers?

The modern trend towards open-plan work spaces offers plenty of benefits – employees are encouraged to communicate and collaborate, and sitting together helps to make everyone feel part of the team. On the flip side, however, lots of noise and distractions can create stress, making it hard to concentrate on that pressing deadline.

Here are some tips from Jennifer Stukenberg, a US-based interior architect, to help you strike the ideal balance between collective and quiet spaces. 

  • Positioning workstations away from busy aisles and work areas reduces distraction and noise, which glass panels also can help lessen. Respite rooms are gaining popularity, especially with customer service workers who need a quiet place to recharge from noisy phone work.
  • In an open environment, leaders can not only demonstrate good behaviour, but also have a better sense of employee that might be struggling. 
  • Environments where employees are physically seen and connected to coworkers allow people to feel like they are part of an organisation and not isolated. Good workplace design causes employees to bump into each other frequently – at the printer or by the coffee maker. These are important opportunities for social engagement.
  • Regular exercise and providing access to daylight has not only shown to help reduce depression, but also improves absenteeism, increases productivity and is high on the list of employee satisfaction. Design workspace to maximise daylight for all workers. Provide a fitness area, outdoor walking paths or discounted gym membership.

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