Designing for Emotional Well-Being

It is clear that architects and designers are responsible for the physical safety of the people who use their buildings and facilities, but how often is mental safety and well being considered? This is another task for interior designers to tackle when designing for the built environment. Companies are responsible for the well being of their employees, and aren’t always fully aware of how focusing on and improving this can actually impact the company as a whole, in a positive way.

The Centers for Disease Control has stated that 68% of the workforce has at least one chronic health condition. They have also stated that 43% suffer from chronic stress. The individuals who suffer from chronic stress lose approximately 10 days of work a year, and lose up to an additional 12 days from presenteeism. “Presenteeism or working while sick can cause productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion and workplace epidemics”. Depression, another chronic condition, causes individuals to miss an average of 7 complete days, along with 36 days of presenteeism.

The chart below is a visual representation of how the top 10 Chronic Conditions affect employees in their workplace.


As you may be starting to realize, companies are actually losing money due to the poor well being of their employees. However, the good news is that 8 out of the 10 chronic conditions can be prevented or reversed through lifestyle changes. This is where employers come into play, and can offer a positive impact on their employees’ lives, while positively affecting their company at the same time.
Here are our top 5 workplace design tips that can help increase the well-being, and productivity of employees:

(1) Flexible Workspaces

Recent research has shown that providing employees with the option and flexibility to work in various areas can help increase productivity, as well as improve health. Allowing employees to “control” their work environment can aide in them feeling safe, and can help to reduce chronic stress or other negative emotions they may be experiencing.

Flexible Workspaces

(2) Open Space

Providing open space settings is another method that can help reduce stress in employees. Some individuals may not feel safe or comfortable in an enclosed environment, so allowing them to be out in the open and around other people is a great and efficient way to provide an alternate space for them. For some people, it is important to offer a setting in which they do not feel “trapped” or enclosed.

(3) Natural Light

Natural light is known to offer various health benefits (as well as offer energy savings). It positively affects one’s mood, and creates happier workplaces and employees. Even if your workplace may not be able to maximize natural light, it is still important to offer proper and adequate lighting. People tend to become tired, stressed, unhappy, and less productive in a dimly lit space. Proper light allows them to complete their tasks accurately and efficiently.

Working in Natural Light

(4) Evoking Nature

Being near to, or exposed to nature is known to be “restorative” for people. It is even more important for people who may suffer from a chronic health condition. Ways to accomplish “bringing nature inside” are quite simple and easy. Consider using real plants in the workplace, and water features. Also, keep window areas clear and allow the outside views to be open and accessible to everyone. In addition, the use of some natural materials may even be considered as a way to bring nature into the office environment.

Invoking Nature

(5) More Glass, Less Wall

People appreciate transparency, literally. Glass walls and dividers offer a private space, without making someone feel locked or closed in. The glass offers visual access to what is going on around the space, while still offering privacy and acoustical values. Another benefit of glass is that it maximizes natural light. Light is able to penetrate the glass and enter the rest of the space, rather than be blocked by solid walls.

As you can see, there are many ways to improve the well-being of your employees. This is something that may often be put on the back burner, or possibly not even considered at all. Not only is it important for employers to care about their workers, but in the long run, it also helps out the employer itself. Happy workers are productive workers, and what employer wouldn’t want that?

Contact one of our professionals today to learn more about increasing the well-being of your employees. We are here, and more than happy to help!