Designing an office in which employees can feel safe, comfortable, and at ease is now more valuable than ever before.
Returning to the workplace post COVID-19 may be a particularly apprehensive time for some employees. As such, creating a work environment that can nurture wellbeing and productivity will be pivotal to ensuring the success of your business.
We sought the advice of Interior Designer Sarah Radhanauth from Superdraft about which specific design elements are the most important for creating the optimum workspace.
- Greenery such as indoor hanging plants and vertical gardens
- Natural lighting & ventilation
- Ergonomic furniture
- Spaces for relaxation and down-time
- Collaborative workspaces
- Private rooms where you can work
- Inspiring artwork
1. Greenery such as indoor plants and vertical gardens
One of the most overlooked but most crucial design elements for an office space is the addition of greenery and a connection to nature.
Why? Green is the most restful colour to the eye. It encourages healing, creates a sense of balance and harmony. It rejuvenates and motivates. The best way to incorporate green into an interior is by way of plants and more recently vertical gardens.
However, many offices tend to be light on greenery simply because of the maintenance and upkeep of real plants. Installing watering systems isn’t always possible and can become very costly. The good news is there is a solution!
Faux plants and vertical gardens have come a very long way in terms of aesthetics and longevity. We are seeing some amazing realistic alternatives and honestly, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. What you can tell is the difference to the way they make a person feel within a space and how they experience it. A person instantly feels relaxed and at ease when surrounded by greenery.
Studies have concluded that even artificial plants can reduce stress and improve efficiency and employee morale. So there’s no reason to not incorporate plants and greenery in the office. Designer Plants have a fantastic range of artificial plants, green walls, vertical gardens, and accessories such as pots and planters perfect for an office environment.
2. Natural lighting & ventilation
Just like greenery, natural lighting and ventilation play a crucial role for well being. Unlike artificial plants, artificial lighting is detrimental to health. Especially in the form of fluorescent lighting.
Being exposed to natural daylight helps the body to keep in sync, alert and energised. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase happiness and actually boosts your immune system!
Ventilation and natural air flow is also so important for the health of a building and its occupants. Stale air can make a person feel sluggish, unfocused and make it difficult for them to concentrate. Well ventilated office spaces reduce air-pollution and will be vital post COVID-19.
3. Spaces for relaxation and down-time
To be the most efficient they can be, a person needs to have a break – away from a screen and away from their desk.
Juliet Funt, Founder & CEO of White Space at Work tells us;
“I think what we all need to choose to challenge right now, is this collective notion that work is never over.
Bloomberg tells us that the average work day is now 3 hours longer than it was before Covid. And we were pretty fried before.
Work HAS to end. It must have edges and end points so that we can turn off and therefore rest and turn back on with vigor”.
This statement really highlights the importance of creating spaces within an office that allow employees to switch off for a bit, enjoy their lunch or reflect and relax. Incorporating a designated break out area and kitchen / dining space helps employees to feel at home and at ease.
If a team member is travelling overseas or moving on, you may also like to reward them with a gift or personalised farewell card.
4. Collaborative workspaces
If COVID taught us anything, it’s that social interaction is so important in any environment, and it is especially for a workplace.
Creating a collaborative work space provides an area for employees to engage and achieve some of their best work by creating a studio environment to bounce ideas off of each other.
5. Ergonomic furniture
Ergonomic furniture is vital for employee health, comfort and productivity. If furniture doesn’t effectively support the body it can increase stress levels and affect mental health.
With a 40+ hour work week it’s crucial to provide a safe working environment by providing ergonomic seating, desks and accessories such as monitor stands or foot rests.
6. Private rooms where you can work
The rise of the open plan office space to encourage collaboration was well received. However, what didn’t address was the important fact that people do sometimes need a private space for meetings and work. In fact, open spaces have even been linked to decreased productivity.
So it’s important to provide employees with a space where they can focus and concentrate without interruption or noise. Carving out periods of time during the day in a quiet space can allow deep thought and important work to be achieved.
7. Inspiring artwork
In the same way introducing greenery affects people’s wellbeing and motivation, so does colour and art. Art enhances a space and creates interest. It can encourage creativity, curiosity and inspire employees.
It can also help to communicate your business brand. Art can reflect the type of company that you have and send a message to your customers about whether the company is cutting edge, creative, conservative or traditional etc.
If you really want your employees to love coming back into the office and be ready for their next challenge, be sure to incorporate these 7 vital design elements within your office space.
Author: Sarah McCahey, Superdraft
Sarah McCahey is an experienced interior designer, and works for Superdraft, a project coordination platform that helps customers plan, design and build their dreamspace. You can view more of her educational and informative blog pieces to help you plan your renovation or new home build here.