Designed to De-stress
For most people, stress is inevitable, particularly workplace generated stress. In America, 83% of professionals report being stressed at work. Up to 1 million employees miss work each day due to stress causing a jaw dropping 300 billion dollar loss in productivity each year. The causes of workplace stress are consistent across most sectors:
Lack of Professional Development
People are working harder for what they understand to be less reward. For these reasons, smart employers are looking towards change management techniques that can improve morale and increase productivity. These ideas include flexible hours, permitting mental health days, and addressing employee fatigue before it turns into burn out. Once these fundamental changes are underway with the CEO or company leaders at the helm, the next step is to make physical changes to the actual workplace to improve things for everyone. Office design isn’t an inherent stress generator, but it can either stall or propel the culture change set forth.
Here are three concepts to help de-stress your workplace.
1 - Embrace Nature
Think about how you feel in a doctor’s office designed in the early 90’s. Now compare that to the feeling when you are in, for instance, a wood cabin. Natural light and products make people feel relaxed, connected, and grounded while artificial products like vinyl tile or white ceiling tiles can make people feel less comfortable. In designing your office, use natural materials as much as possible and allow for natural light to penetrate as far into the building as possible.
2 - Positive Branding
Reinforce your brand in a way that promotes a collective enthusiasm and reinforces the hard work completed by your employees. Highlight newly completed projects or initiatives by having them displayed on screens in common areas. If your work is graphic in nature, get prints made and hang them in corridors and meeting rooms. Use of branding colors create a distinct place that employees can be proud to show to clients and visitors.
3 - Alternative Work Spaces
Design spaces that allow for recharging. Simple spaces like reading nooks, wellness rooms, or even a sunny common area with plants and comfortable seating can go a long way in retaining productivity by giving people a place to recenter and refocus on the day’s tasks. Providing a variety of work/ social/ collaborative spaces help boost creativity and reduce stress levels. To test this out, take a conference call while taking a walk, or work for an hour from a coffee shop this week during your workday and see how it impacts your mood.
Workplace stress will never go away 100%, but we can do our best as employers and designers to prevent undue stress from monopolizing our energy and focus by implementing the tools at our disposal.
Wishing you all good health this work week!