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The impact of office design on employee well-being

The impact of office design on employee well-being

In today’s demanding working world, office design plays a crucial role in shaping employee well-being and productivity. There is a significant influence of office design on employees mental states, enrichment, and workplace engagement. We examine key aspects such as the evolution of office design, the focus on healthier working spaces, and strategies for improving employee welfare.

The evolution of office design

Office design has evolved significantly over the years to meet the changing needs of businesses and employees. Traditional closed cubicles and hierarchical layouts have given way to open-plan spaces that foster collaboration, communication, and a sense of community. This shift recognises the importance of teamwork, creativity, and flexibility in modern work environments. Office design now emphasises creating fluid spaces that encourage interaction, allowing for seamless collaboration among team members and departments.

Moreover, flexible workspaces have gained popularity, allowing for agile work environments that can adapt to changing needs. The evolution of office design is driven by the recognition that the physical workspace greatly impacts employee engagement, creativity, and overall job satisfaction.

The increase in hybrid working

Hybrid working, a blend of remote and in-office work which become increasingly prevalent in recent years, mostly driven by the 2020 pandemic. This shift in work patterns has necessitated changes in office design to accommodate a more flexible and adaptable environment. To support hybrid working, offices now incorporate a combination of shared workstations, hot desking options, and collaboration areas equipped with advanced technology for seamless communication between remote and in-office team members. These design elements encourage effective collaboration and foster a sense of belonging and connectivity among employees, regardless of their physical location.

In addition to this, the comfort of home working environments need to be adopted in the physical workplace. The demand for comfort-zones, break out rooms and ergonomic seating is higher than ever before.

The emphasis on healthier working spaces

According to Forbes, an overwhelming majority (87%) of workers would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits, with options ranging from wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-stands, healthy lunch options, and ergonomic seating.

Modern office design places a strong emphasis on creating healthier working spaces that prioritise employee well-being. Ergonomic office furniture and adjustable standing desks are now commonplace, promoting proper posture, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal issues, and increasing overall comfort.

In addition, office layouts are designed to maximise natural light exposure and views to the outdoors, which have been shown to enhance mood, productivity, and circadian rhythms. Incorporating biophilic elements, such as indoor plants and natural textures, can further improve air quality and contribute to a sense of tranquillity and connection with nature.

Air quality

Air quality is a critical consideration in office design as it directly impacts employee health and cognitive function. Poor indoor air quality can lead to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and respiratory issues, negatively affecting productivity and well-being. To ensure optimal air quality, modern offices implement effective ventilation systems, air purifiers, and regular maintenance protocols.

Modern office design incorporates effective ventilation systems that promote proper air circulation, filter out pollutants, and maintain optimal humidity levels. Additionally, the use of air purifiers and regular maintenance protocols ensure clean and fresh air within the office space.

Introducing green spaces, such as living walls or indoor gardens, not only enhances aesthetic appeal but also helps purify the air, increase oxygen levels, and reduce the presence of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Office lighting

Lighting plays a vital role in office design, influencing employee alertness, mood, and visual comfort. Natural lighting is highly sought after as it provides a sense of connection to the outdoor environment and promotes a more vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Modern offices are designed to maximise the use of natural light by incorporating large windows, skylights, and light wells.

Where natural light is limited, offices employ artificial lighting options that mimic natural light to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. In addition to this, task lighting is strategically placed to ensure optimal visibility and minimise eye strain, while ambient lighting sets the overall tone and mood of the workspace. Providing employees with the ability to adjust their lighting levels and preferences allows for personalised and comfortable workstations, contributing to enhanced productivity and well-being.

Office spaces for the mind

Recognising the importance of mental well-being in the workplace, office design now incorporates dedicated spaces that support relaxation, focus, and stress reduction. Quiet zones or meditation rooms provide employees with a retreat where they can find solace, recharge, and engage in mindfulness practices.

These spaces are designed to be calming, with soft lighting, comfortable seating, and acoustic insulation to minimise distractions and promote a peaceful atmosphere.

Breakout areas equipped with cosy seating, recreational activities, and socialisation opportunities foster a sense of community, collaboration, and work-life balance. These spaces allow employees to take short breaks, engage in informal conversations, and recharge their minds, leading to increased focus and creativity when returning to their tasks.

Improving employee welfare

Office design plays a pivotal role in enhancing employee welfare, creating a supportive and inspiring work environment. Communal spaces, such as shared kitchens or breakout areas, encourage social interaction, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas. These areas serve as informal meeting spaces where employees can connect, share insights, and build relationships, fostering a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

Comfortable rest areas with cosy seating, soft lighting, and access to nature help employees recharge during breaks, reducing stress and promoting well-being.

Incorporating art, colours, and natural textures throughout the office stimulates creativity, uplifts mood, and creates a visually appealing and inspiring atmosphere. Providing employees with options for personalisation, such as adjustable workstations or flexible seating arrangements, allows them to tailor their workspace to their specific needs and preferences, leading to higher job satisfaction and engagement.


Office design is a powerful tool that significantly impacts employee well-being and productivity. Nolan Interiors takes into consideration all aspects of mental and physical wellbeing when helping to design your office space.

We can make detailed recommendations on such healthier working spaces, air quality, office lighting, and strategies for improving employee welfare. We are here to help your organisation create environments that empower employees to thrive.