Traditionally, the office layout has been designed with functionality in mind with a predominant focus on the encouragement of productivity within the workplace. However, more recently it has been recognised that a more holistic, person-centred approach is needed, and in order to create high performing and productive places to work, employee wellbeing must be considered.

Whilst some companies are offering programmes to promote health and wellbeing to their employees, in order to really tackle the issue, consider broader strategies regarding the design of the workspace itself.

Actives Office Design Approach

Studies suggest that our surroundings can have a significant influence on how satisfied we are in the office, affecting work motivation, and even patterns of interaction within the business. If a workplace is performing poorly this can be as much of a source of pressure as a heavy workload, poor work-life balance or significant organisational change.

With rising concerns over the issue of sedentary behaviour in the workplace and its effects on both mental and physical health, as well as the cost of recruitment; the wellbeing of your staff simply cannot be ignored.

Although there is no 'one-size-fits-all' office design approach to designing for wellbeing, there are certain areas that must be considered. Here are five concepts you should consider with regard to office design and wellbeing in the workplace:


1. Office Layout.
When designing a workplace that focuses on wellbeing, the layout of your office has a crucial part to play. Open plan and flexible office layouts have the potential to increase collaboration, boost innovation and use space efficiently. However, it is important for organisations to integrate quiet spaces for privacy and concentration so that employees have a choice of working environment depending on specific tasks.

According to the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), flexible working conditions can significantly reduce employee stress and make for a much healthier and happier workforce. By allowing your employees to manage their working style and choose their working environment, you are giving them a sense of control and empowerment.

2. Bring Natural Elements Into Your Office Design.
This is a growing trend in the workplace. Designers of today are recognising the link between humans and their innate affiliation with the natural environment, especially within the workplace. According to a study by Human Spaces, EMEA office workers who work in environments with natural elements report a 13% higher level of wellbeing. Research has also found that the presence of natural elements can act as a buffer against the negative impacts of workplace stress, having a positive impact on both wellbeing and creativity.

Natural elements can be incorporated into your office design through the use of colours as well as texture, natural materials and plantation to bring the outdoors inside. For example you could create an impact by incorporating a living wall into your reception area.

3. Colour.
According to research into the psychology of colour, the choice of the colour scheme within a workplace can have a significant impact on employee mood, behaviour and overall wellbeing. For example, high wavelength colours such as red can quicken heart rate and cause feelings of anger and impatience. Where a slow wavelength colours such as blue and green can provide a calming effect,alleviating stress and enabling concentration.

Blue is one of the most popular colours used in the workplace and has been proven to increase productivity and stimulate performance. Blue also encourages loyalty, trust, responsibility and peace; all important aspects to emphasise in an office space.

4. Lighting & Temperature.
Both lighting and temperature have significant impacts on physical and psychological wellbeing in an open plan office. According to research by Leesman, 81% of workers believe temperature control to be an important factor of an effective workplace and 77% believe natural light has a part to play.

Natural light is essential for employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity and as such, it is important to incorporate as much as possible throughout the work space. In order to make full use of the available lighting, you must consider different levels of lighting for different areas and tasks within the office. For tasks requiring a lot of concentration, you should use more powerful light levels, whereas you would have lower light levels in a breakout area to encourage relaxation.

5. Ergonomics.
Sedentary behaviour not only diminishes levels of productivity but can also increase the risk of serious health issues such as depression, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as the potential for musculoskeletal disorders.When designing a workplace to combat this, the ergonomics of your office furniture can have a huge impact.

Your furniture should be as flexible and adjustable as the rest of your office in order to provide a sense of wellbeing throughout the whole workplace.Important features to look out for when choosing the correct office chair includes: rotation and height adjustment, sufficient leg space and a back rest of 50 cm. However, ergonomics should not be limited to just the office chair alone. Screens should be on adjustable monitor arms to avoid eye strain and height adjustable sit/stand desks should also be considered to encourage movement.


Incorporating Wellbeing Into Your Workplace Strategy.

With regards to office design and incorporating wellbeing into your workplace, it is important that you engage with your employees.Whether it's face to face, using an online poll or an employee satisfaction survey. By engaging with your employees and considering their feelings, you can design an office layout that is suited to their needs.

Not only should wellbeing be considered on a office design level, but in order for it to be effective, it should also be incorporated into your workplace strategy. At Active we offer a workplace consultancy service.This means that we are able to analyse how your workplace works and what needs to be done in order to improve. We can help you create a workplace that incorporates the needs of your employees and is aligned with your strategy for employee wellbeing.

For more information on how we can help, please get in touch with a member of our experienced and friendly team. You can get in contact with us by calling us on 0845 130 9066

You can also contact our team online by:

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