Your office is a reflection of your work and the environment at your workplace. When you wake up in the morning and go to work, your first thoughts often involve what will be happening at work that day. The environment we spend our working hours in can greatly impact how we feel and perform at our place of employment, and whether we have a positive or negative perception of our job.
1. How does the design of office spaces affect mood?
We spend the equivalent of one-third of our lives working, so it is important to work in a place that is conducive for productivity, creativity and mental health. These days, it’s not that hard to create a nice and comfortable environment. And you can find great Office Depot coupon options to make the best out of your office space. This is very important to do and when you do it the right way, it has many benefits.
When the physical environment of the workplace isn’t suitable, people tend to leave their job as it becomes harder for them to perform at optimal levels. Once employees start believing they are stuck with their current jobs because they can’t find another one as suitable as this one, they stop looking and become less likely to ever leave. This has been termed ‘job lock’ or ‘presenteeism,’ where employees don’t feel comfortable staying home even if they are sick due to financial risks associated to not working. You don’t want that, so you need to make sure your employees are comfortable.
2. What is the most influential factor?
The most influential factor in how your office design affects mental health is the color of the walls. Studies have shown that blue hues are more associated with an impact on our emotions compared to red or yellow hues. Blue has been used as a calming hue for patients at hospitals, and studies have found that individuals exposed to blue rooms react more calmly during surgical procedures than those who were assigned to rooms with other colors. This is because people associate blues with water, lakes, oceans, and sky which are all naturally occurring objects that promote feelings of relaxation, comfort, and calmness versus reds, yellows, and oranges which are fire-like colors associated with high energy levels thus creating a negative mood overall.
According to research presented by Harvard Business School, colors are stronger triggers for emotions compared to music or pictures.
3. How does light affect employees in the office?
How your office design affects mental health can also be affected by how much natural light is exposed. Exposure to the sun has been shown to elevate moods and keep us awake during winter months, when sunlight is often limited. Having access to direct views of nature promotes positive feelings that impact on our creative work performance as well as maintain eye contact with others in face-to-face interactions, which leads to more productivity within teams at work.
One study found that employees who had window views of nature were not only more productive, but their creative problem-solving abilities increased by almost 60% than those who had indirect views of this natural stimulus through windows facing inner courtyards. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, employees who had an office with a high exposure to nature also experienced fewer sick days, lower blood pressure and better morale overall.
There is however a caveat in that too much exposure can have negative effects, producing a lack of sleep and potentially increasing the risk for minor health issues such as sinusitis. Therefore, it is important to not be exposed directly to natural light, but rather indirect views from windows or glass walls facing outdoor spaces. A comparison between these two strategies has been shown in research. Individuals in windowless offices spent less time with their face directed towards an outside window and experienced a decline of up to 25% in mental health, which is equivalent to the decline sometimes seen after bereavement. There was also a significant decline in self-reported levels of concentration, job satisfaction and motivation.
4. So, what can we do to improve our office design?
Office managers need to invest more into workers’ surroundings by introducing sustainable designs such as natural lighting, green views and access to parks and exercise areas. These will not only benefit individuals’ moods but also their physical health through increasing use of public transit, more active lifestyles and increased social interactions. This has been especially important since employees who work from home have reported feeling lonely and isolated, which is why some employers provide telecommuting options for remote desk work while offering opportunities for employees to meet co-workers at the office through planning social events, workspaces, and collaboration spaces.
5. How can employers improve employee satisfaction levels by allowing them more agency over their work environment?
It is also important that employers give employee’s input into their workplace design, as having a say in how they would like to see these changes implemented will improve worker satisfaction levels. This can be done through offering workers more control over what they do in the office, how they work with others, and allowing them to suggest ideas for improving their own office space. In addition, meeting rooms should have been thoughtfully designed with features promoting creativity, such as whiteboards using paintable surfaces or glass walls which offer a clean slate for brainstorming sessions or presentations.
Employees’ happiness comes from intelligent designs that emphasize natural light exposure, views of nature and access to the outdoors. Through implementing these practices, employees’ productivity levels will improve, while happy feelings can be experienced from working in a space that they feel connected to.
Office managers need to invest more into workers’ surroundings by introducing sustainable designs such as natural lighting, green views and access to parks and exercise areas. These will not only benefit individuals’ moods but also their physical health through increasing use of public transit, more active lifestyles and increased social interactions.