How Office Design Can Reduce Workplace Stress



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Given that many of us are overloaded with work and faced with tight deadlines, it’s no wonder that stress is increasingly common in the workplace. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean a workforce under pressure and anxious should simply be accepted.

Should you be a responsible business owner who cares for the welfare of their employees, or you’re the member of an HR team charged with taking care of ergonomics, this one’s for you; here’s how your office design can reduce workplace stress.

Let The Air Flow

According to research by the World Green Building Council and reported by Forbes contributor Alan Kohll, increasing fresh air to workstations and reducing pollutants within the office space can make the workforce 11% more productive.

The simplest (this one’s up for some debate, we have to concede) way to clean up the air indoors is through the addition of plants. The Peace Lily, Boston Fern and Devil’s Ivy are all said to be plants which have air purifying qualities. Still, you could go further by installing air filtration systems, or at the very least, flinging open a few windows from time to time.

A Healthy Larder

Does your office have its own larder? If not, perhaps the workplace could be redesigned to accomodate one, with office design services from Maris or other such companies helping to pick up much of the slack here, by doing much of the heavy lifting, design wise.

Sadly, you’ll have to move your own cereal boxes in there once it’s ready. In all seriousness, a designated area for nutritious office snacks will foster a holistic approach to health within the workplace, which can contribute massively to reducing the collective stress of your company.

Embrace Biophilic Design

Incorporating elements of nature into the office design not only improves air quality but also enhances the connection employees feel with the natural world, which can significantly reduce stress levels. Consider integrating living walls, natural wood finishes, and water features to create a serene and inviting workspace.

Prioritise Acoustic Comfort

Noise pollution in the office can be a significant source of stress. Introduce sound-absorbing materials such as acoustic panels or partitions, and designate quiet zones where employees can work without disturbance. This can help to create a more peaceful environment that supports concentration and reduces cognitive stress.

Foster A Culture Of Mindfulness

Create a dedicated space for relaxation and mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga sessions. Encouraging employees to take short, mindful breaks throughout the day can help them manage stress and maintain mental clarity.

Implement A Comprehensive First Aid Programme

Ensure that employees have access to first aid training and that your office is equipped with appropriate first aid kits. As Safe Haven, who offer first aid courses in Banbury, tell us, this not only prepares your team to handle health emergencies but also contributes to a sense of safety and well-being in the workplace.

Introduce Flexible Workspaces

Offer a variety of workspaces that cater to different tasks and working styles, such as collaborative areas, private pods, and breakout zones. This flexibility can help reduce the feeling of being ‘trapped’ at a desk and allows employees to choose a setting that best suits their current needs.

Encourage Digital Detox Zones

In an age where technology is omnipresent, it’s important to provide areas where employees can take a break from screens. Designate tech-free zones where staff can disconnect, read a book, or engage in face-to-face conversations, which can help to lower digital stress and promote social interaction.

Offer Colour Therapy

The psychology of colour can play a significant role in influencing mood and stress levels. Incorporate calming colours such as blues and greens into the office palette to create a tranquil atmosphere that can help soothe and focus the mind.

Allow Natural Light To Shine Through

No one wants to work in a dingy, dark room. It’s only headaches which seem to percolate in such environments, not ideas and innovation. Natural light, on the other hand, is superb for raising morale. Indeed, Cornell’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis found that employees who sit within 10 feet of a window reportedly had 84% fewer eyestrain instances, headaches and blurred vision symptoms.

Therefore, it pays to be strategic about how you illuminate your office. Adding skylights and shifting large, bulky furniture away from windows could help you to maximise sunlight. If your office has no natural light or windows at all, it may be time to move to a new office that’s bright and airy.

Give Employees An Easy Means Of Exercise

The average workstation probably doesn’t lend itself well to users doing the occasional push-up or star jump, which is why your office should make it easy for your workers to get their physical exercise elsewhere. After all, exercise boosts blood flow, energy and alertness, and has been proven time and time again to lower stress levels. 

Therefore, provide stairs which your staff can use instead of a lift, add some storage space for bicycles they could use for commuting, and even consider adding shower facilities for those who like to run to work or work out in their lunch break.

If you’re going to make storage space for bikes, go a step further and offer your employees the Cycle to Work Scheme. Studies show that those who cycle to work show lower levels of stress that those who arrive by car.

Ensure Your Staff Are Sitting Comfortably

When used to describe workplace furniture, ergonomics is full of meaning. The right ergonomics can, for your staff, reduce muscle fatigue as well as the severity of musculoskeletal disorders. These MSDs are a leading cause of lost work time. As a general rule, office furniture that would allow users to easily alternate between sitting and standing is ideal, but you should also mix up where exactly you let your staff work, enabling a fluidity conducive to comfort. If you have the money, invest in some standing desks to promote a less sedentary approach to the working day.

Provide Ergonomic Assessment & Training

Beyond offering ergonomic furniture, provide regular ergonomic assessments and training to ensure that employees are using their equipment correctly. This proactive approach can prevent discomfort and injury, thereby reducing stress associated with physical strain.

And with these words ringing in your ears, and your new found warmth found, why don’t you give your staff the afternoon off? They deserve it.

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