We live in a fast paced world where much of our day is spent at our workplace where people are also working more and more hours. This can be detrimental to our health and well-being, so it’s important to look at the various areas of our lives to see how we can continue not just keeping ourselves well, but thriving.

In order to do so, we’re excited to share how fantastic office design can reduce stress in the workplace as a significant contributor to better health.

Creating an exceptional office space for you and your staff takes knowledge, experience and an understanding of your business from a functional aspect, people’s behaviour, branding, communication, culture and an Occupational Health and Safety perspective. What’s more, being up to date with current eco-trends is crucial to design and the ability of your office space to remain progressive and supportive of a healthy work environment.

Thus, here are some fabulous yet simple tips that will make your office design outstanding in the blink of an eye.

1. Make Your Office Space Functional

Over time, we have seen the shift in the design of workspace to be less ‘regimented’ or ‘confined’ to one that allows for personality, style and fun. Finding that balance is important and how the office is designed depends on the need for collaboration or concentration.

While many may not have the budget of someone like Google, we can still take away some ideas from their office design and the influence it has on staff morale and productivity.

When considering to what extent the workspace needs to be collaborative or quiet, we look at social, technical and organisational elements. How the workspace is structured can have an impact on the stress levels of workers.

What type of business do you have?

For instance, a consultancy may require ease of access to quiet meeting rooms from reception with the need for internal consultancy staff to have a more open plan to allow for discussion. A call centre, on the other hand, may have a greater need for partitioning so that conversations are not within earshot but have a general space where staff can congregate to interact and share.

The layout of the office can have an impact on the opinions and attitude of the staff. Business leaders who are closed-door can give the impression to their employees that they are not approachable so the team members may feel they won’t be heard.

In addition, how the equipment at a desk is set out can also mean coming to work to clutter and electronic overload or a calm and organised space. Hence, it’s important to consider the physical structure of the office to maintain high staff morale and reduced stress.

Understanding the function of all the departments and how you can enhance communication between these teams can also improve collaboration and understanding, as well as break down stereotypes. For example, a creative team in an advertising company may have little to do with the accounting team, so it’s a good idea to look at the departments or teams within your company to work out how to best maintain a positive working culture and encourage interactions between them.

The size of the space can also influence how employees view their workplace and indeed if they want to come to work. It’s important to consider whether cubicles, open-plan, private offices or perhaps a combination of these are the most beneficial for your staff.

Moreover, studies show that high noise for extended hours can cause higher stress levels. Having a communal space as a destination is something that should definitely be considered as part of an office plan. However, the activities within this area should not interfere with those who require peace and quiet to complete their work.

2. Mind the Air Quality and Lighting

It can be difficult to control the type or air conditioning that is used in a building that you are leasing for your office. However, it is still worth noting that certain studies conducted show that a ‘green’ environment where the air quality was improved, had a positive impact on the health and well-being of the study participants.

Check out this article to see how proper ambient scenting can do wonders for your business. Not only does it improve your employee’s productivity, but it significantly reduces their stress levels. Amazing, isn’t it?

Aside from actually adding to air quality, the use of plants also adds to the impression of breathing cleaner air and is preferred by office staff.

Furthermore, there are two types of lighting that need to be considered in an office environment – internal lighting and natural lighting. The preference is always for as much natural light as possible.

Also, windows these days need to meet certain criteria based on thermal ratings and radiation absorption to meet particular industry ratings. Therefore, it’s wise to consider the office orientation before renting an office space.

3. Choose Eco-friendly Design Materials

Reducing material toxicity in the workplace is critical for the health of your staff. Always remember – healthy employees are more productive and happier.

The type of paint used for the office space can provide for less toxicity. These days other options are available including water based and zero VOC (solvents). It can be easy to overlook this element of office design, but this is certainly something to be considered before leasing or when refurbishing an office.

Aside from walls, flooring is another area that one can consider for eco-friendly office materials. Bamboo flooring is a more popular option these days, but this will depend on your building type and requirements for safety. Be aware that not all carpets are good-quality.

Furniture is something that can help identify your brand and image in your workplace. Find out if your commercial interior consultants have furniture that has been made from recycled materials or materials that are non-toxic and natural.

The type of furniture you use in your ‘meet and greet’ area may be quite different from the communal area for workers. Ergonomics of your office furniture and accessories is critical these days, and such concepts as sit-stand desks are more widely used to support the health of staff.

When an office is being designed, such considerations are applied to water saving plumbing, and fixtures that reduce the impact on the environment.

It’s now very easy to ensure products available to staff through the washroom, work area or kitchen are eco-friendly. Check to make sure the commercial office cleaners are also using eco-friendly products around your office.

4. Create a Separate Activities Area

Breaking up a work day and letting your staff know that it’s OK to take a break is excellent for productivity. Providing activities and creature comforts in a communal space does wonders for stress levels and allows for interaction. When your team members feel they are valued, they are happier and healthier, remember?

Therefore, consider more options such as filtered water, healthy tea/real coffee, table tennis, mini-pool table, coffee table books or books of interest, board games, fidget spinner, hacky sacks, as just some ideas to provide a low-stress environment.

Remember that great design incorporates many elements and having a low-stress environment means happier, healthier and more productive staff who will be glad to come to work.

We would like to thank Ettore Riboni from In2 Space for giving this article. To learn more about office design and sustainability, see the office design website of IN2 Space, Melbourne’s preferred office interior designer and project manager.