Successful organizations exist because of the success of the people within them. Designing a workspace that supports physical, emotional and cognitive comfort puts the priority on the wellbeing of employees. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re exploring ways to support mental health in the office.
Flexible, adaptive work arrangements signal to employees that their organization values choice and employee independence by giving people more control over their work experience. Whether choosing to work alone for quiet focus or collaborate in teams, 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 as well as collaborative, communal spots – will help satisfy the five-generation workforce. Employees should have the opportunity to 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 reflect that. We discuss flexibility at work more in this blog.
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. Besides, we know the demand for outdoor workspaces is on the rise. By encouraging connection to nature and promoting wellness through improved air quality, outside work environments offer an oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation in the office.
Interiors & Sources echoes this perspective, recommending outdoor spaces in a list of ways to reduce workplace stress — noting the cognitive and psychological benefits that access to nature or outdoor spaces provides. Whether it’s an outdoor patio lounge, open-air break room or an al fresco respite, sleek, contemporary designs can make the outdoor office extension equipped for socializing, quiet concentration and collaboration. For inspiration, you can find our EMU outdoor collection 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.” Reevaluating dominant ideas in workplace design makes room for new perspectives that address a range of issues — accessibility, race, gender, mental health and more.
Simply breaking the silence about personal wellbeing can be a powerful step towards 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 in the modern office is evolving, read our blog that explores trends, changes and solutions we’re seeing in the future workplace.
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