Stress is now identified by the World Health Organisation as the “health epidemic of the 21st century.”
Work is a significant contributor of stress for most Londoners, and not only does it have an impact on our health, job-related stress is becoming increasingly harmfull to businesses globally, causing absenteeism and reduced levels of performance. But, as workplace designers, there are ways we can take when designing your new office that will help you create a less stressful environment for your staff.
Design for employee control.
Consider a hot-desking work environment where employees can choose where they sit at the beginning of each day, and not be tied to a particular desk that is allocated to them at the beginning of their employment. Not only will the ability to choose their own work setting each day enable your employees to feel in control over their environment but, it allows them to reconfigure and customise their workplace to suit their everyday needs. This kind of perk will help to lessen individual stress and anxiety.
Design for face-to-face interaction.
By allowing space for collaboration you are not only encouraging teamwork and innovation but also helping to minimise digital communications. The act of constantly checking for new messages puts us into a constant “high alert state”. A well designed collaboration space will reduce any physical barriers and encourage more face-to-face interaction, curbing endless email chains.
The creation of real interaction is only part of the equation. Face-to-face interaction itself is linked directly to a reduction in stress. As humans are inherently social beings, research has shown that those who rely more on digital means of communication also report higher rates of stress and anxiety.
Design for work, rest and play.
Most offices have a tea point with facilities to make drinks and store lunch items, but does the space you have encourage employees to take sufficient time out and unwind. Regular breaks that allow us time away from our desks and computers are essential to our mental wellbeing.
By creating an inviting breakout space your staff will feel more ok to take a break and unwind with their colleagues, talk about their work and get support if they are feeling under pressure. In the right setting, we often encourage employers to consider incorporating miscellaneous items such as a pool table or table tennis as these help further to facilitate interaction, inclusion and comradery between your staff and further alleviating feelings of anxiety.