Physical working environment and employee wellbeing
Employee wellbeing and productivity is essential to consider when discussing any workplace. While various factors influence the health and happiness of your employees, one often overlooked aspect is the physical workplace environment. The way a workplace is designed and organised can have a significant impact on employees’ mental health, motivation, and overall productivity. From more minor things like the colour of the walls to significant factors such as layout and space, there is a lot to consider when talking about the physical work environment. Are the working environment and employee wellbeing that closely connected? Which considerations should be made? How much should the employees be involved in the process? Find answers to these questions and more below!
Creating a positive environment for mental health
The physical working environment and employee wellbeing in terms of mental health as closely linked. A study conducted by the World Green Building Council found that employees working in green-certified buildings reported higher levels of satisfaction, improved cognitive function, and reduced stress compared to those in non-certified buildings. Natural light, indoor plants, and access to outdoor spaces are key elements that positively affect employee mental health. Such features contribute to improved mood, reduced anxiety, and enhanced creativity.
Colour can also make or break a workplace. Adding bright and natural colours (plants) can boost your employees’ mood and reduce stress, help them stay motivated and focused. Ventilation and temperature are also important. Fresh air boosts productivity and cognitive functioning, reduces sick times, and can help manage humidity indoors. Good ventilation can also help improve temperature and its control. Having to work while sweating profusely or shivering will not be good for your employees or their productivity, thus ensuring your workplace is comfortable to work in should be a priority.
Workplace design can facilitate social connections and collaboration, which are essential for employee wellbeing. Incorporating comfortable common areas, communal spaces, and breakout areas encourages interaction and fosters a sense of community among employees. By promoting positive relationships and reducing feelings of isolation, organisations can create an environment that supports mental health and employee engagement.
Workstation comfortableness also influences employees’ physical wellbeing, which in turn affects their overall productivity. Ergonomic considerations, such as adjustable desks and chairs, proper lighting, and well-designed workstations, can significantly impact employee comfort, health, and efficiency. This is an important consideration in discussing the working environment and employee wellbeing. Research indicates that ergonomically optimised workspaces reduce musculoskeletal disorders, absenteeism, and work-related injuries, leading to improved employee performance and job satisfaction.
Sedentary work habits can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. A static work environment can lead to decreased energy levels, increased stress, and even chronic health issues. Organisations can combat these negative effects by promoting movement and physical activity in the workplace. Incorporating standing desks, exercise areas, and encouraging regular breaks can help employees stay active and reduce the risks associated with prolonged sitting. By prioritising movement, organisations create an environment that enhances employee wellbeing and ultimately boosts productivity.
Noise is a prevalent issue in many workplaces and can significantly impact employee focus, concentration, and productivity. Open office layouts, while fostering collaboration, can also introduce distractions and increase noise levels. A range of studies revealed that excessive noise, especially that found in open-plan offices, can significantly impair cognitive function and ergonomics, hinder creativity, and increase stress levels. Providing quiet areas or implementing noise-cancellation strategies can create a balanced acoustic environment, enabling employees to concentrate better and work more effectively.
Personalisation of the workspace allows employees to create an environment that aligns with their preferences and boosts their sense of ownership. Allowing individuals to add personal touches, such as photos, plants, or artwork, fosters a sense of identity and promotes a positive emotional connection to the workplace. Research shows that employees who have control over their workspace and can personalise it are more satisfied, motivated, and productive.
Work and life
The physical working environment and employee wellbeing needs and considerations are evolving with the rise of flexible work arrangements and remote work. Creating a flexible environment that accommodates remote work options and alternative work schedules can enhance employee satisfaction and work-life integration. Offering a variety of workspaces, such as quiet rooms, collaborative areas, and remote work options, empowers employees to choose the environment that best suits their needs for different tasks. This adaptability promotes work-life balance, reduces stress, and can lead to increased productivity.
The physical workplace environment has a profound impact on employee wellbeing and productivity. By investing in employee-centric design elements, organisations can create a nurturing environment that supports mental health, physical wellbeing, and productivity. Incorporating natural elements, providing ergonomic workstations, encouraging movement, managing noise levels, allowing workstation personalisation, and embracing flexibility are all crucial steps towards fostering a positive physical workplace environment.
To learn more about the working environment and employee wellbeing, and how you can help your employees feel and work at their best, contact us!