Strategising Wellbeing in Workplace Design

‘This January felt different, the motivation is not there; work and wellbeing is falling behind.’ This feedback got us thinking… has the workforce ignored wellbeing for too long? Begin strategising with these pinpointed key areas that can be approached individually or combined in a plan to help boost wellbeing in your workspace.

8 minute read

27th January, 2023 | Remarcable

It's about that time when people are starting to feel the weight of their goals for the year, and for some, they can feel heavier than originally estimated. Especially in areas with good intentions but broad implications, we can sometimes lose track of what it is we specifically need to do in order to achieve results and focus on simply how we want to feel when they're accomplished; while we always start our design projects with understanding how people want to feel in a space, it's important to strategise how we are going to get there in order to bring that vision to life.

One of the most common goals we see being set out within company visions' for this year is Wellbeing, this after recently published HSE annual statistics reveal that 914,000 suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety during 2021/22 following the pandemic. So whether you are considering applying to start a design project with us, or simply looking to start engaging more in design planning yourself, here are some key strategies you can start implementing; each is a tangible tool for boosting wellbeing and we hope you explore them fully in your workplace to help support your team this year.

Did you know your flooring texture influences your subconscious mind and mood?

Leverage surface texture variety throughout your space plans

Using different surfaces to help compartmentalise your working day is a great way you can begin in practical terms. Specifically for offices or healthcare environments, in all of our luxury workspace design plans we focus more on using textures and surfaces as a tool to create atmosphere. 

If you are at your workstation right now, look down... Most likely you have hard surface flooring or short pile hair carpet tiles, these are after all the most practical and standard... There's nothing wrong with that, but when you move away from your work area and go to take your break or use a casual meeting area, the best design practice when designing for a person's wellbeing as well as work performance it is to switch the textures and mood by using softer and deeper carpet tiles. Everything from the furnishing finishes to wall, floor, ceiling textures, colours and lighting is picked up by our sensory body system and it plays an important part in our bodies, mood and general wellbeing and productivity levels.  

For example, if we are designing for our healthcare client's spaces where there are highly nervous patients, then we would tone down the colours to softer and more relaxing shades combined with accent decor items that can balance the mood, not too relaxed, and not too hyper. We would search for just the right amount to create a pleasurable experience. For waiting or break-out areas where people sit for longer, then we would choose cushioning that was deeper and more comforting, as well as creating a more homely and welcoming atmosphere to exhibit an overall soothing environment, building on our first strategy to bring home the second. Additionally, we recommend complimenting harder surfaces like metal and glass with softer surfaces like wood and velvet to once again balance the mood.

Send the noisy colleague to make his calls or take a short nap elsewhere, then pay attention to the meeting.

Designate specific areas to foster wellness 

Our No. 2 is a catchy title and although we have heard those frustrations many times from previous clients; designing for us is about coming from a place of understanding, that specifically being from someone's work routine to their personal experiences or struggles. This way the design solutions and space planning have a better chance to serve the right purpose for your teams and business growth. From here, it all starts with wellbeing techniques!   

While break rooms are often used to help rejuvenate workers by providing a separate area from their work, a designated wellness area within it or separately backed up with physical wellness furniture and tools may help employees respond better as they use that particular area for wellness in itself. Some examples? Physical wellness tools such as wellness pods that offer meditation or mindful exercises that help you make the best of short breaks, or things like modern sleeping pods designed to give you a short microsleep that can transform 5-15 minutes into a recharge for your brain. 

If you're working with limited space or resources, even adding furniture pieces that are made for added comfort can make a big difference. Within working areas themselves, designated private work booths or phone booths can be highly beneficial; as productivity level drops when people start feeling fatigued, overwhelmed and stressed during long meetings or in busy, loud areas, designated individual work areas can help foster wellness by providing a worker space to get into a flow state and disconnect from external distractions that may be causing them anxiety or undue difficulty.

They painted inmates prison cells in pink and it reduced aggression.

Amplify colour psychology tactics

This Switzerland's approach to using colour psychology has circled the internet for a while now and intrigued psychologists and designers around the world with its beneficial results. Here's the link if you missed it. 

We may not realise how colour affects us in our usual working days until we take a closer look; while bold colours can have a brash effect in things like advertising, in work areas the calming effect of neutral and earthy tones, like shades, like soft greys, taupe, and linen shades of white, can provide a really solid base for a space that is not overwhelming. With this in mind, it is especially important to consider when you spend long hours every day in the same environment. 

Your starting point can be the classic, timeless combination of wood (providing the warmth, earthy, cosy element) and concrete (cooling the mood with its colour and balancing it out with a more urban or even sophisticated look, depending on its finish). This creates harmonious nuances that are more user-friendly for longer hours. Then we add colour depending on the working area, the type of people that will be using it, and the tasks they will be performing. This is where our study and understanding of colour psychology takes priority to put it all together in a way that can be beneficial for the end users of the space and their overall wellbeing. 

If the hues of sunrise light can wake you up and likewise the sunset's hues can warm you up, what does commercial fluorescent light do to your brain daily?

Harness natural light sources

If you're searching for the answer to No. 4's question, one thing is for sure; it does not support wellness and it has potential long-term harmful effects. So what can we do to help it and improve it when budgets are not there to replace with circadian rhythm lighting systems, for example?

Maximising the use of natural light by adding bouncing-back surfaces that can reflect some of the light further into the space can go a long way in terms of making any space feel brighter and bringing into the building the natural movement of our sunlight source. In contrast, the same goes if the workspace is too bright as you can balance it with darker colours to absorb some of the light or use semi-transparent blinds and curtains to defuse it so it's softer and gentler to our eyes. Dimmable or additional lighting sources near our workspace can help too.  

Within our extensive work in healthcare environments, we always try to plan staff areas so they have access to natural light and position break-out areas for lunch near a window so that when workers are enjoying their meal times they can look out and break away from the clinical environment to get the best of their break.

So what do you do if not all your team areas are positioned near natural light sources or our biggest nightmare - the basement? If this is the case then we recommend finding a new building... Joking aside, we would use some super duper new-ish technologies that are mimicking a sky window, for example, so it still creates the feeling of having a natural source of light. With the right type of lighting, we could even bring plants into basements to help shift the energetic feeling of Nature.

Natural lighting in either context, physical or technologically programmed, can affect one's Circadian Rhythm; this is essentially everyone's biological body clock that is impacted by the light around us. To learn more, you can see our blog on how to understand it here.

Your daily walk about can do so much more than just get in those extra steps; use it to super-charge your focus.

Map space plans for comfort and efficiency

Last, but very much not least, is the space map pre-planning. In all of our luxury design plans, before we even go into the colours and textures we would look at how we want people to move within a given space and explore what task or purpose we want them to perform in this space to minimise effort and maximise function. We would usually start with a 2D plan, working closely with our clients to understand the core function of their business so that when we plan their new space it is designed with the end user in mind. For example, in offices we would position break-out areas away from working areas so when a person is taking a break they are away from their desk and they do not have a direct site to it. This would help the mind to focus away from problem-solving or task management so that when workers are on their break they can enjoy having a fulfilling refresh for being more efficient when they return to their tasks. 

Exploring this In clinical spaces, we would focus on a function within clinical rooms so it helps the dentists, doctors or nurses to perform at their best which would minimise effort and make it easier to perform their duties; this can create a feeling of being supported which is beneficial to mindfulness in the workspace, especially important for healthcare practitioners and the often hard treatments they have to perform. Once again ensuring that they have a nice break-out area where they can stretch and recharge goes a very long way for a person to feel like they are looked after and cared for which results in being happier and more productive in your work environment where we tend to spend most of our lives away from the comfort of our homes. So we think, how can we bring some of this comfort to work?

To discover what this may mean in your space, you can begin by having a walk through your current space plan and imagine tangible elements within it; what can you hear, see, or experience while you're there? If you imagine yourself as a worker in your break room, can you hear a road noise from an outside window or a crying baby from a waiting room? What about your manager on the phone next door? How does the lighting in the room feel when you take a seat? Taking a quick moment to focus on emotions and sensations that may be experienced in a space can help you map better space plans, and are especially beneficial realisations to have when you begin discussions with a design team for your project so they can build these up into full renders and expand on your observations.

To learn more about the importance of space planning and whether to prepare in 2D versus 3D as you explore the process, check out our blog here.

Ready to begin strategising wellbeing in your workspace design?

Contact us for your free consultation; we can help you on your way to finding the perfect design project solution for your business and goals, whatever they may be.

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