Successful organizations exist because of the success of the people within them, so it’s a smart business decision to prioritize the wellbeing of employees. In this month’s design news aggregate, and in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we explore ideas for supporting mental health in the office.
Below, read 3 ways to focus on mental wellbeing in workplace design.
Flexible, adaptive work arrangements signal to employees that their organization values choice and employee independence by giving people more control over their work experience. In turn, this can reduce stress and foster a more supportive work experience. Executive wellness coach and consultant Naz Beheshti suggests in Forbes that encouraging employee autonomy through flexible environments is a “win-win solution” and creates a sense of trust. On Office Magazine recommends that offering a variety of office spaces – quiet areas along with collaborative, communal spots – will help satisfy the five-generation workforce, as employees can choose the setting that best suits them.
Adaptable work environments that shift to accommodate changing needs throughout the day are key. In an exploration of ideas to foster the wellness-minded workplace, Work Design Magazine proposes that “this might mean that employees don’t have an ‘assigned’ desk but rather choose a workspace that suits their mood and the items on their to-do list each day.”
Incorporating settings with inherent versatility is one way to introduce more freedom into the workplace. A few ideas: the Coalesse Free Stand is a portable work surface with a built-in handle that makes it easy to carry for workers on the go. The Lagunitas Lounge System adapts to changing work styles, shifting postures and varying degrees of privacy. Sebastopol Tables are easily reconfigurable – push several together for group work, or pull one closer to focused solo work. The modern workplace is fluid – and spaces should support this. We discuss flexibility at work more on the blog here.
A well-equipped work area on a patio, deck, rooftop or balcony can be the on-site retreat workers need for a welcome mental break. Work Design Magazine recommends outdoor spaces for focused work, team gatherings, breaks and a range of activities from “active to passive.” The article features the Lake Trust Credit Union Headquarters in Brighton, Michigan, complete with balconies and terraces: “90 percent of respondents reporting that they believe the new office has had a positive effect on their health and wellbeing.”
Interiors & Sources echoes this perspective, recommending outdoor spaces in a list of ways to reduce workplace stress and noting the cognitive and psychological benefits that access to nature and outdoor spaces provides. Whether it’s an outdoor patio lounge, open-air break room or al fresco respite, sleek, contemporary designs can make the outdoor office extension better equipped for socializing, quiet concentration and collaboration. For inspiration, you can find our EMU collection for outdoor here.
No room for the outdoor office? Work Design Magazinediscusses how even access to views of a natural landscape benefit cognitive restoration, explaining: “Multisensory access to the outdoors is part and parcel of our ability to effectively marshal and sustain our cognitive resources throughout the day.”
Another way to bring the outdoors in: incorporate living walls at work. Reducing stress & increasing cognitive function are just a few of the mental-health related benefits of bringing nature to the office – we talk with expert Bill Browning on more of the benefits in our blog here, and you can check out the living walls from our partner Sagegreenlife here.
Recapping an industry panel discussion on inclusive design, Metropolis Magazine suggests: “Forming a useful sense of design empathy means engaging with as wide a spectrum of potential users as possible” and challenging the “assumed consensus.” Re-evaluating dominant ideas in workplace design makes room for new perspectives that address a range of issues — those of race, gender, mental health and more.
Simply breaking the silence can be a powerful step in promoting mental health in the office. Forbes reports that engaging employees of all levels in discussions about mental health and resilience can improve workplace morale.
To learn more about how design can help impact office culture and create wellbeing-oriented surroundings, check out our blogs on how to design for modern, diverse workplaces, and the enduring power of the informal workplace.
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