The number of employees in the UK taking sick days has seen a year on year increase, with one of the most common reasons for absence being due to issues surrounding mental health. Fear not however as there are a number of ways in which employers and decision makers can mitigate the impact of these absences via Improving mental health through office design.
As Winter approaches and daylight hours become shorter, employees are more likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression caused by changing seasons especially prominent during Autumn and Winter when daylight hours are reduced.
To mitigate the impact of SAD, employers should maximise the amount of natural light within the office throughout the day through looking at how their office is designed, for example desks could be moved near to windows, and glass partitions could be installed to allow natural light to travel throughout the office.
Plants & Greenery
Biophilic office design can improve the mental health of your employees as bringing nature into the workplace can reduce feelings of anger and stress meanwhile increasing confidence and motivation. Generally, offices with several live plants in their workspaces report fewer absences and increased employee wellbeing when compared to offices with no greenery.
Other benefits of incorporating biophilics into your office design include productivity boosts alongside potential benefits in terms of recruitment as many jobseekers look for offices which will promote positive employee wellbeing.
Offices can be quite a noisy environment therefore it is important to consider how noise travels throughout your office space. Too much noise can have a detrimental impact on your employee’s mental wellbeing, as workers may become frustrated, stressed and unproductive due to the various noises found in offices.
Improving mental health through office design can be achieved by identifying how noise travels throughout your office space, for example departments located near the sales team are likely going to become frustrated due to the constant phone chatter therefore installing partitions or storage walls could be implemented within the office design to restrict how noise travels.
Private working areas
Despite open plan office design firmly establishing itself as the industry standard, mental health charity Mind suggests the inclusion of quiet spaces and space dividers within commercial office design should not be overlooked. Private working areas and meeting booths can provide the perfect getaway for employees who are feeling stressed or need to escape the noise of the office floor or simply prefer to work undisturbed.
Designing a mixture of spaces into your office is the best way to improve employee wellbeing alongside productivity. Giving employees the spaces where they feel comfortable working but also the spaces where teams can collaborate is a sure-fire way to boost productivity throughout your workforce.
Like with private working areas, breakout spaces provide a much needed escape from the busy office environment, allowing employees a chance to recharge. The best breakout spaces can improve your employees mental health as they offer a relaxing environment in which they can socialise with colleagues away from their desks.
If you’re looking at including a breakout space as part of your office design, consider incorporating some fun elements like pool tables, televisions and kitchen facilities, along with a mixture of comfortable seating choices such as bean bag chairs and sofas.
Author- Marcus Livesey, Marketing Executive at Officeinsight