leadforensics How to create an office design with physical and mental diversity in mind | Oaktree Interiors

As the nature of our work has changed, so has the set-up of the office design in which we perform our daily tasks. Workplaces that were once created to house in as many people as possible to act as a rigid production line, have been replaced by open, flexible spaces that aid creativity and thought.

Fostering creative thinking can only be successful if we feel physically and mentally well, however – and as being at work takes up much of our time, it can be said that what we experience has a major effect on our health. Therefore, it makes absolute sense that any business should have a workplace design that aids health and wellness.

Below, we'll be delving into examples of how companies are creating workplaces that have a positive impact on employee health and wellness (and as a result, their productivity).

Office design for health and wellness

An increasing number of businesses are taking advantage of today's technology to create flexible workspaces. Armed with a portable device and a Wi-Fi connection, employees can move around and choose the environments in which they feel like working; boosting their physical and mental health simultaneously.

This has seen an abundance of companies adopt a 'zoned' approach to the design of their offices. Each area can offer employees a different environment to work in; from busy collaborative areas, right through to quiet places designed for privacy. Have an outside area? Employees will be able to experience the benefits of nature (more about that below) by moving outdoors to work (weather permitting, of course!).

The point is that there is a world of possibility available with flexible office design; so with that, here are some great ways to zone the office to boost health and wellness:

Bring nature indoors

Having an increased exposure to nature (even for short periods) will provide a health boost to any office. Known as 'biophilic design', this technique sees natural elements incorporated throughout the working environment. It makes use of living elements (such as plants and natural light) or imitative objects (wall colours, art, plastic plants, etc) to connect people with their surroundings.

Whilst it may not be possible for all spaces to incorporate every single aspect of biophilic office design, certain elements can be sprinkled around to enhance wellbeing in any interior. Some common characteristics of biophilic design, include:

  • Larger/more window displays to conduct natural light.
  • 'Living walls' made from plants.
  • Vegetation such as potted plants or shrubs.
  • Natural views.
  • The use of natural textures and materials throughout.

Prolonged sitting has the potential to be harmful to our health. If you think about the amount of time we spend doing it (at least 7 hours at work, more at home), it's no surprise that many of us don't get the 150 minutes of movement a week that the NHS recommends.

Studies have linked inactivity with being overweight, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and early death. Sitting for long periods is also said to slow down the metabolism, affecting the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down fat in the body. Not being able to move in a congested workplace can not only be a barrier to our physical health, but it will also negatively affect creativity and productivity too; imagine having to sit at the same desk, looking at the same environment all day. Doesn't sound too appealing, does it?

Allow people to recharge

Inspiration can't be willed, it has to come from clear a thinking process; if stress affects that clear thinking, then inspiration won't find its way through. So to allow employees to clear their minds (as well as connect with others), relaxation/recharging spaces are at the forefront of any creative, flexible office design. Some examples include:

  • Breakout facilities. A breakout room (or area) is a place set away from the main working arena that provides a sense of extra comfort. It allows people to peel themselves away from their stressful moment and be able to relax in a place where they can recollect their thoughts. Often, breakout facilities are combined with a kitchen to provide people with the means to prepare healthy meals, chat and relax in comfort.
  • Television/games room. To the uninitiated, having a room dedicated to watching the telly or playing games may sound counter-intuitive, but it can help people to de-stress and reorganise their thoughts. Team activities, such as pool, table tennis, darts or game consoles are great to boost office camaraderie too.
  • Health and fitness suites. A great way to make use of space in the building that the office pays for, but doesn't use, is by turning it into a facility that will boost the wellness of employees. Many firms use their spaces to create a health and fitness suite of sorts; not necessarily a fully-equipped gymnasium, but somewhere that has enough space for people to roll out a mat or to keep up with their cardio or weight training. Not only can such a place aid their health, but it will also allow them to look forward to their day at work, not be distracted because they feel that they don't have the time to keep up with their fitness regime.

Provide places for privacy

Not only can designated 'quiet spaces' help people who need to concentrate on a particular task, to get away from the noise of the collaborative areas, they can also provide a space for them to make a personal phone call or to simply relax without distraction for a few minutes. Distractions area big productivity killer for many of us; having a space in which we can entirely focus or deal with a pressing personal issue will allow us to get on with our work, boosting productivity and our mood as a result. Creating such areas can be done by using sound proofing in rooms or by introducing pods or booths, set away from the main working area. So those were just a few ways that the health and wellness of employees can be catered for in a zoned office design.

Improve your working environment, with Oaktree

Regardless of your requirements for your ideal office interiors, you can feel rest assured that the Oaktree team has you covered. Whether it's a full-scale office refurbishment, relocation, design or furniture provision, we have over 30 years of experience in meeting the precise needs of our clients, creating innovative and inspiring work environments.

As part of our leading workplace design service, we offer a completely FREE, no obligation consultancy that takes into account all of your (and your employees') requirements, creating a unique design proposal. Taking the form of 2-D and 3-D images, it is the perfect way to get an insight into what your ideal office interiors may look like, without you committing any financial resources.

Interested in learning more? Please feel free to give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or alternatively, send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com.

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