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Office design can impact mental health

With around one third of our lives spent at work, it stands to reason that our well-being will be heavily impacted by our working environment. Evoke Projects has shared many tips on improving productivity and motivation with a new office fit-out or office refurbishment, but did you realise that our workplace can also have a dramatic impact on our mental health?

The role that our built environment plays in mental health is one of the key office design concepts under the WELL Building Standard® v2. WELL seeks to create spaces that inspire us and that help us become happier and healthier people.

According to WELL, around 18% of adults will experience a common mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, over a 12-month period, and over 30% of adults will experience this during their lifetime. Depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy an estimated USD $1 trillion due to lost productivity.

The built environment serves as a powerful tool to help mitigate these adverse mental health outcomes through policies, programs and workplace design. Evoke Projects examines the recommendations for “Mind” under WELL v2 with suggestions for your next office fit-out or office refurbishment.

Add restorative spaces

By adding restorative spaces within the office design for employees to step away from stress, and to recharge and refocus, employers can help alleviate workplace fatigue or mental depletion. At Evoke Projects, we encourage clients to add breakout zones when undertaking a new office fit-out or refurbishment. These zones provide a place to relax and recharge during the work day, not just at lunch times.

For a space that is designated exclusively for contemplation, relaxation and restoration, WELL recommends that the office design considers:

  1. Accessible design
  2. Lighting (e.g., dimmable light levels)
  3. Intrusive noise and sound masking (e.g., water feature, natural sounds)
  4. Thermal comfort
  5. Seating arrangements that accommodate a range of user preferences and activities (e.g., movable lightweight chairs, cushions, mats)
  6. Nature incorporation
  7. Calming colours, textures and forms
  8. Visual privacy

Support optimal sleep

Regularly sleeping fewer than seven hours per night is associated with several chronic, adverse health outcomes, including depression. WELL suggests that limits are set on work and communication outside of normal business hours to support employees in achieving sufficient and high quality sleep.

Office design initiatives can also play a part in sleep support. WELL states that short (less than 30 minutes) afternoon naps may help mood, alertness and cognitive performance, such as productivity and learning. They suggest a calm, quiet and low-light zone fitted with a bed or daybed, couch, cushioned roll-out mat, sleep pod, fully reclining chair or even a hammock for afternoon naps. How about creating space for a little sleep nook during your next office fit-out?!

Give people access to nature

Integrating nature into the office design with plants, water features, light and views can support mental well-being. Additionally, using natural materials, patterns, colours or images during your next office refurbishment project will breathe new life into the workplace.

Other mental health initiatives

Of course, there is more to mental health improvement than just excellent office design. Other WELL suggestions include organisational efforts to reduce the stigma around mental health, the provision of stress management programs and advice on accessing mental health, substance use and addiction services and treatment.

Office designs for wellness

The WELL Building Standard has more detail about office design best practice. Version 2 builds upon WELL v1, offering choice to building and office designers while enabling a single version of WELL that could evolve to meet the needs of any type of building in any part of the world. Please visit their website for more information or talk to the team at Evoke Projects.

A new office fit-out will give your staff a refreshed mind as well as a refreshed office. Even a small-scale office refurbishment could help relieve workplace stress and anxiety, reduce absences and enhance overall perceived health status. Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out about office designs that focus on wellness and assist mental health.

Book a meeting Call 1300 720 692

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