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Office design & mental health

The 10th of October marks World Mental Health Day. The day provides an opportunity to discuss what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’, this is unsurprising, as during 2015 – 2016, stress accounted for a massive 45% of all working days lost in the UK.  It is, by law, the duty of every employer to create healthy, engaging, environment for staff, in order to reduce stress levels and absenteeism.

On average, we spend 33% of our working day in the office. With so much time spent at our desk, the position, structure, and layout of the office we find ourselves can have a massive impact on our mood, productivity, and wellbeing. We’re taking this opportunity to discuss how office managers and business owners can use office design to encourage positive mental health in the workplace.

 

Daylight and lighting

Sunlight has a profound effect on our mental and physical health, impacting on our vitamin D levels, serotonin, endorphins, nitric oxide levels, as well as our mitochondrial energy levels. During the winter, as our days shorten, we receive less sunlight. This can lead some individuals to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder, a disorder which leads to sufferers experience depression related to the season change.

You can combat this by ensuring your office is filled with as much natural light as possible. Arrange your office furniture to maximise light exposure, choose non restrictive window coverings, and most importantly, allow for adequate break times so that employees have enough time during breaks and lunches to enjoy some sunlight.

 

Noise

An oft neglected area of office design, is how to design workplaces to acknowledge excess noise. Noise disruption within the workplace, whether it’s from speech, telephones, or machinery, can affect focus and productivity, with studies finding that excess noise within the workplace leads to employees exhibiting increased stressed levels, higher rates of fatigue and poorer cognitive performance.

When designing your office or workspace, consider including extra barriers within the workplace, if possible, giving your employees individual cubicles or offices. However, if this is not possible, consider utilising sound absorbing materials such as carpet. Finally, encourage your employees to keep the noise to a minimum!

 

Hydrate your workers

In order to grow, plants need water. In order to be productive, happy, and healthy, employees require hydrating. Indeed, in a recent study, the University of Connecticut (2010), found that even a dehydration level of 1-2% causes a decrease in cognitive function. Studies have also found a connection between dehydration and planning skills, as well as the incidence of mistake. A hydrated workplace is one that is more productive, efficient, and cohesive. 

The little things can make a massive difference to how employees view their workplace, and give them that extra push to get to work in the morning. You should definitely be providing fresh clean water (you can read all about the benefits here, and view Borg & Overström‘s exclusive hydration range here), but it’s often the extra touches that upgrade a workplace from a 9-5, to a destination of choice. Consider offering high quality tea and coffee, as well as selecting a water dispenser with the option of sparkling water. You can view a range of sparkling water dispensers, here

 

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