How workplace design can nurture employee well-being

How workplace design can nurture employee well-being
September 25, 2023
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In our ever-evolving work environment, it’s undeniable that workplace well-being plays a critical role in both employee satisfaction and organizational success. As workplace experience managers, how can you leverage the power of physical space to promote a holistic approach to well-being?

The current landscape of workplace well-being

Recent findings from Deloitte underscore the urgency of addressing workplace well-being.

Many workers say they frequently feel negative emotions and fatigue. For example, around half “always” or “often” feel exhausted (52%) or stressed (49%), and others report feeling overwhelmed (43%), irritable (34%), lonely (33%), depressed (32%), and even angry (27%).

These figures are a clarion call for those responsible for the workplace environment. How does the design and utilization of space either help or hinder these concerns?

Related Video: The untapped potential of mindfulness in the workplace with Scott Shute.

Physical spaces influence well-being

Physical environments can either promote or jeopardize well-being. Here are ways you, as a manager of workplace experiences, can make a tangible difference:

  • Spaces for collaboration & solitude: Open spaces can foster collaboration, but employees also need quiet areas for concentration and relaxation.
  • Break areas: Encourage breaks by designing inviting break rooms, where employees can relax, refresh, and socialize.
  • Flexible working zones: Flexibility reduces stress. Offering options from standing desks to lounge areas can give employees choices based on their tasks or mood.
  • Nature elements: Incorporating plants, natural lighting, and outdoor views can enhance emotional and mental well-being.

The broader impact on organizations

Physical well-being influences broader organizational outcomes:

  • Enhanced productivity as employees feel comfortable and motivated.
  • Greater innovation from collaborative areas designed to foster brainstorming and creativity.
  • Decreased absenteeism when employees have spaces to relax and recharge.
  • Improved employee retention in environments where they feel valued.

Action steps for improving well-being through design

  • Promote work-life balance: Design spaces that clearly differentiate work zones from relaxation zones, encouraging employees to detach from work.
  • Professional growth zones: Create areas dedicated to learning and professional development, such as libraries or tech hubs.
  • Wellness corners: Consider dedicated zones for fitness, meditation, or even quick power naps.
  • Leadership through design: It's not just about facilities but also about the ethos. Let the design communicate leadership’s commitment to employee well-being.

Design intentionally

Physical space is a silent communicator. It tells a story about what an organization values and how it sees its people. As the steward of workplace experience, your role in shaping spaces that bolster well-being is more critical than ever. By being intentional in your designs, you not only support the health of your colleagues but also enhance the overall success of your organization.