is the design of your workplace affecting your employee's headspace?

Do your people want to return to working in the office? A recent survey has revealed that nearly three quarters of workers in the UK would take a pay cut if it means that they can work remotely full time.

If you’ve noticed that your staff are reluctant to return, it could be time to revamp your office design and make it a place so attractive that it gives them FOMO!

By that we don’t mean dishing out branded hand sanitisers and complimentary face coverings – these Covid-safety protocols should come as standard. We’re talking about going above and beyond to entice your people back to a place where they will feel safe, productive, and inspired.

Here are some of the simple office design factors that employers should consider to prevent the workplace from negatively impacting staff mental health.

Safety first

Despite being given the government go-ahead, many employees still don’t feel safe to return to the office in fear of catching Covid, particularly those in open-plan offices.


Think about it - going from the comfort of our own four walls at home to an area where walls are no more, the barriers to communication are swept aside and distractions are left, right and centre, there’s no wonder staff feel anxious. So, what can employers do to help? It starts with paying close attention to personal space.

We’ve been following the safe two-meter distance rule for over a while now, but as we return to the workplace, the degree of space that each employee needs to feel safe will vary greatly. It’s important to ask your colleagues if they’re comfortable with the degree of interpersonal space you’re providing in the office and change the physical layout and furnishings accordingly.

Panels for productivity

Regretting moving into that open plan office space? Don’t worry – there are ways that employees can still get some privacy and be able to focus without interruptions.

Say hello to panels – simple, yet super effective pieces of furniture that provide protection against visual distractions and background noise.

During the office design process, noise is often something that’s overlooked despite it being one of the most significant distractions and a factor that can seriously increase workforce stress levels. How? it triggers a stress response in the amygdala – the part of the brain that drives our fight or flight response.

Offices should therefore implement sound absorbing materials to keep noise to a minimum. It can help your people to focus, think clearly and be their most productive selves.

A breath of fresh air

Speaking of stress, there’s other design elements that also contribute - a main one being lighting. Research reveals that workers who have more exposure to daylight and fresh air through opens windows in the office perform better, have lower stress levels and generally experience a better quality of work life. It’s also been scientifically proven to help staff that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

However, not all offices are fortunate enough to have windows and easy access to natural day light - in such cases, incorporating elements of nature can be a helpful alternative.

We’re talking something as simple as dotting some plants and flowers around the workplace. Not only can they make it a more homely environment, there’s evidence that they can elevate employee’s mood, increase happiness, and boost creativity.

Picture perfect

Plants aren’t the only thing that can unlock creativity in the workplace – art is another powerful tool.

We’re not saying you need to replicate Tate Modern, but by adding some colourful prints and paintings to your office walls you could get your people’s creative juices flowing.

A study by Microsoft found that working from home without any inspirational space to brainstorm, has made it extremely difficult for employees to innovate and come up with new ideas, so the return to the office provides the perfect excuse to unleash your inner artist and fill those walls!

Your office layout can impact your people’s wellbeing in a variety of ways. By reassessing your workplace design and making some simple improvements, you can create a much happier, healthier workplace.

Here at Key Wellbeing that’s what we’re all about! Get in touch to find out how we can help.


connect with us

Melissa Armstrong and Marie Ranson,
Co-founders of Key Wellbeing Ltd.

Proudly from Teesside in the North East of England, Melissa and Marie have 15 years of wellbeing experience.

We’ve both seen and personally experienced the impact that mental ill-health can have on our families and the wider community and for that reason, we are both super passionate about helping people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, especially at work.