How workplace design can improve employee health

As people spend more time in the office, and consequently, more time sitting in front of the computer, it’s important for businesses to consider how workplace design impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of employees.

Importantly, the ideal workspace design encompasses not just the physical surroundings, but also the practices and culture of the workplace. The best workspaces strike a balance between ideal physical surroundings and opportunities to move, interact and collaborate.

Businesses that can provide optimum workspaces designed for modern teams to thrive will not only find it easier to attract and retain the best talent, but will undoubtedly see an increase in productivity. As stress levels decline, along with absenteeism, and output and job satisfaction increases, businesses will reap the benefits along with their staff.

In this article, we look at the how workplace design can improve employee health and wellbeing, and supercharge your business.

Ergonomic workstations

It goes without saying that employees need access to well-designed, ergonomic workstations. From a supportive chair to the right desk layout, this can significantly impact productivity. Many workplaces now offer standing desks to encourage staff to spend less time sitting. A great way to get started with standing desks is to offer a few throughout the workplace, and allow employees to book them out as needed.

Natural light

Beyond the good lighting required to work efficiently, the best workplaces have access to ample natural light. Humans respond to light on a physiological level, and workplaces that are drenched in natural light will find staff are healthier and have more energy. Of course not every desk can be located next to a window, but smart window design and open plan spaces encourage daylight to penetrate more of the floor. Studies have also shown that views of the outdoors and green spaces can reduce stress.

Air quality

Access to clean air, and wherever possible, fresh air, contributes to overall employee health. Where office design doesn’t allow for windows to be opened, access to parks and green space nearby is a great way to facilitate staff getting some fresh air throughout the day.

Of course temperature control is another important factor, allowing people to exercise some control over their comfort and ensure it’s not too hot or too cold to work efficiently.

Privacy

While the current trend towards open plan offices has many advantages, it’s important to consider noise and the provision of more private spaces for people to make phone calls, meet without disturbing others and have private conversations when required. Allocating a few smaller quiet offices in addition to meeting rooms is a perfect solution.

Collaboration spaces

In addition to quiet spaces for people to concentrate, offering a range of collaboration spaces to encourage people to get up, move around and work together in different ways is great for overall productivity and wellbeing. These breakout spaces and common areas could include writeable walls, large benches, plush chairs or even bean bags, depending on your workspace.

Providing these spaces is a signal to teams that your business encourages this style of work and collaboration, giving people permission to embrace a more mobile, flexible style of working together.

Encourage people to move

As well as collaboration spaces, workplace design can encourage employees to move in other ways. Many larger buildings offer end-of-trip facilities, making it easy for people to walk, cycle or run to work, or exercise at lunchtime.

Simple strategies like introducing a regular stretch break, or access to a weekly yoga class can also go a long way to improving employee health. Your business may even consider offering subsidised gym memberships to a facility nearby.

Conclusion

Businesses that embrace these aspects of workplace design will not only find they are able to attract great talent, but they will see an increase in productivity and overall staff satisfaction and wellbeing. Encouraging movement and collaboration through workplace design also ensures your team will be poised for more innovation and success.

Implementing these workplace design features in your business will not only be better for your employees, but better for business.

Waterfront Place provides a range of health and wellbeing activities, including regular group exercise and Pilates classes, premium end-of-trip facilities and state-of-the-art workspaces to encourage a healthy lifestyle. To find out more, visit the big business and boutique suites section of the website.