How Office Design Impacts Employee Well-being

How office design impacts employee well-being banner

This might be a hard pill to swallow: it’s estimated that, in Western cultures, people spend 90% of their time indoors. In North America, workers spend at least 50% of their indoor time in the workplace. Employers should maximize workers’ comfort and well-being to make the most positive and productive environment possible where their employees can thrive.

Optimizing an office’s design potential isn’t a new concept. Since the 1980s, researchers have studied how people are affected by their physical environment at work. It might seem like something arbitrary, but the design of a workplace goes far beyond aesthetics. A building’s layout significantly impacts employee well-being, productivity, and overall company culture.

So how can we create the best environment for today’s modern workers? Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to pleasing every employee, but an overwhelming majority have similar tastes. It all comes down to how these factors impact an employee’s comfort, flexibility, and overall health.

Let in the Light

Office window view

Natural lighting is a powerful office perk. In fact, a 2018 research poll found that access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attributes of the workplace environment.

Sufficient sources of natural light in the office are linked to better sleep, improved mood, higher motivation, and increased productivity. Natural light may also prevent eye strain, head

aches, and the risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD.)

Utilizing large windows or skylights where possible is a great way to introduce natural light into your office space.

Stay Flexible

Hybrid schedules have become commonplace in recent years. Having flexible schedules centered around being both in the office and remote has increased workers’ desire for choice. Workplaces are beginning to reflect this desire.

Open-concept floorplans are great for working with teammates and fostering collaboration and engagement among coworkers. It lets employees receive feedback from their teammates and get work done quickly. But what happens when being in an open space becomes distracting?

Workplace distractions may reduce employee productivity by up to 40% and increase errors by 27%. Working in an open space is great, but there should be a balance between collaboration and independent work. It’s best to offer employees both options. An open floorplan is great so long as phone rooms and breakout rooms provide places for employees to work independently or in small groups.

Bring in the Great Outdoors

While we might not be able to grow entire forests in our office buildings, there are definitely ways to bring the outside in. Trends have shifted towards including nature in interior spaces, but researchers have studied biophilic design’s impact on people’s mental and physical health since the 1980s.

Adding natural elements to the office space, such as views of nature and indoor plants, can positively impact mental fatigue and add restorative value. Incorporating plants and other outdoor elements into office design has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance creative thinking. People who work in spaces with natural elements have 15% higher levels of overall well-being, feel 6% more productive, and feel 15% more creative at work.

Nature also plays a vital role in today’s color palettes as moss, plants, tree bark, and more contrast the neutral, calming tones that may overwhelm an office space.

Prioritize Health

Ergonomic seating in workplaceYou may have heard the saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.” That’s just one phrase that highlights our society’s shift toward health consciousness. For workers who spend most of their day sitting in front of a computer screen, employees may feel dissatisfied in a solely sedentary environment.

Many people have installed standing and walking desks in their home office spaces. It might be time to introduce them in office buildings too. Some offices have implemented fitness rooms or full-fledged gyms. When standing might not be an option, modern workers prefer having ergonomic chairs and desk arrangements to minimize discomfort and health risks.

Employees might also value having walking spaces around the workplace to take breaks or have walking meetings.

According to the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, 87% of workers would like their current employer to offer workspace benefits with options like wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-standing desks, healthy lunch options, and ergonomic seating. Some companies are even including mental health resources such as spaces for relaxation, meditation, and counseling services.

Aside from additional perks, improved light and temperature, indoor air quality, and ergonomic furniture are also linked to worker health. It’s been suggested that 16-37 million cases of colds and flu per year could be avoided by improving the indoor environmental quality of US office buildings. Keeping your workplace healthy isn’t just desirable, it’s also necessary.

Return on Investment

Investing in your workplace isn’t just about beautifying the space around you. When you transform your workspace, your workers will better appreciate the time they spend at work. 

Investing in a workspace that prioritizes health and comfort can lead to enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism, and a more engaged workforce. This can affect employee retention and how a company maintains its talent. After all, improving the workplace gives workers a better quality of work life that impacts how they show up at work.

Two women shopping in a Canteen market

Make the Workplace Worth It

Today’s workplace is competing with the comfort of home. Its competition is a stocked pantry, a well-cushioned couch, and streaming service subscriptions, and that can be hard to beat. While we don’t expect associates to start showing up in sweatpants, we can expect that they hope to be comfortable and inspired in the workplace.

So how does the work building beat working remotely? By not only meeting employees’ needs but also their wants. Perks like coffee bars, free snacks, or convenient markets ensure your team stays well-fed and focused so workers can show up as their best selves.

Choose Canteen

Completely altering a workspace seems like a heavy lift, so don’t go it alone! When you choose Canteen as your partner, we’re not just here to provide snacks (although that’s certainly part of it.) We want your workplace to be the best it can be, and your breakrooms are a great place to start. We offer custom breakroom design, allowing you to choose the contemporary style that best fits your business. 

We also want to implement solutions that benefit your workforce. From grab-and-go meals to office coffee, we strive to keep your team well-fed, satisfied, and supercharged for the workday. Choose a partner that keeps your workplace’s best interest in mind. Choose Canteen!

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