Four ways office design can boost wellbeing

People spend almost 12 full years of their lives at work; so it’s no surprise we’re increasingly keen to stay healthy in the office. Workplace wellness is a growing phenomenon, and it’s something that can be affected by the very design and layout of the workspace itself. Peter Ames, from office experts, looks at how design can bolster the mental and physical wellbeing of employees.

The (ergonomic) basics

The first step to taking care of employee health is ensuring they have suitable Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Of course, wrist rests and monitor raisers are hardly jaw-dropping design features, but they are essential to ensuring employees don’t leave the office with too many aches and pains.

And this can be expanded into more innovative elements of office design. Standing desks, for example, can be an excellent way in which to showcase forward-thinking features while taking care of physical wellbeing. If you want to go the whole hog you can even find treadmill desks!

Get fruity

It’s 2016, it’s time to ditch the coffee station and go for something with a little more vitamin C. We think fruit stations are a great idea, while healthy teas genuinely are also a delicious replacement for stale instant coffee. Remember, apples will probably keep you going for longer than an Americano!

While we’re talking about vitamins, a further way to boost health through workplace design is to ensure you’ve got plenty of light topping up employee vitamin D levels. Of course you can’t be creating skylights everywhere, but make sure you make the most of what you have. And if you can’t, try to encourage walking meetings!

Zone in on wellbeing

A good way to keep employees smiling is to provide them with the areas they need to work at the top of their game. This can be achieved by designing different ‘zones’ of an office (indeed a standing desk area could be one). Quiet work areas are hugely popular, while you might even want to design ‘creative’ spaces that are a little more informal.

On the physical side of things, while hot-desking is increasingly popular, it might not be the best way to keep everyone fit and healthy (keyboards can harbour all sorts of germs). Giving someone a sense of ownership over ‘their’ desk has also been found to boost both productivity and wellbeing in general.

Brand yourself happy

A final way to boost employee wellbeing is to give them a space of which they can be proud, and in which they look forward to spending time. Workspace branding is office design 2.0 and is all about creating expressive spaces that allow staff to live and breathe a brand.

As well as giving people a place in which they’re happy to work, office branding offers further opportunities to make employees feel engaged: It’s great to get everyone involved in the whole process, from designing the office to helping moving desks; it gives staff a greater sense of ownership, which can only be a good thing. And for those who end up moving the furniture, at least they’ll get a reasonable workout!

Peter Ames is head of strategy for Office Genie, a hub for desk and office space rental listings