Investing in the wellbeing and wellness of employees is essentially an investment in the health and wellness of the business. The workplace will only thrive and prosper, when the most valuable asset is prioritized – its people. Organisations are propelled by the people who keep operations moving, growing and evolving.
If it is down to the people in an organisation move it forward, then the conditions and space in which they operate should act to enhance their wellbeing for better productivity and quality of life. Who better to call upon to enhance the space in which employees work than an interior designer? Interior design is more than the mere fabric and furniture placed in a room for aesthetic reasoning alone. It extends to creating and enhancing the relationship between people and space, and to improve the user experience of the space available in the intervened environment and this is applied to office design.
When asked about the wellness and wellbeing of the office employees, the first thing that comes to mind for many is mood. Are they happy, energised, focused and content to be working in such an environment? If these moods are the key ingredients to a successful workforce, and a successful workforce, in turn, is key to a healthy business, emphasis should be placed on enhancing the mood of employees. The interior designer has a range of strategies available to achieve this, lighting being primary in doing so.
Natural light plays a vital role in elevating interior ambience. Subsequently, it possesses the power to control our mood, functionality and health. Natural light has been found to alleviate symptoms of depression. Interior designers bear in mind the fact we spend up to 80% of our time indoors, and so make full use of natural light sources. Whilst the interior designer cannot necessarily manipulate the sun, their role is to make the most out of what the sun has to offer.
Ambience lighting can also affect our energy levels. When thinking about the function of a room and its occupants, designers will manipulate coloured lighting to energise or relax us. Blue lighting is recognised to increase energy levels and alertness.
Further, lighting should not only be used to complement other design elements but should also serve the purpose of the people in a room. The level of comfort at which a person operates should be enhanced by the ease of vision. This is imperative in working environments.
Second, the success of a business depends heavily on the productivity of its employees. Ultimately, the higher the productivity, the higher the ROI for the company. It drives growth and helps to keep costs down. Evidently, this is of central importance to your business strategy and should, therefore, be taken into account when designing the office space. The psychology of colour comes into play here and interior designers are well aware of the implications colour has on wellbeing and productivity levels.
Depending on the nature and function of the space, colours can evoke different emotional responses. The bedroom, for example, should strive to invite feelings of warmth, comfort and naturalness, in which case the colour brown might deliver. Whereas shades of yellow have been found to spark creativity and energised ambiences.
In the office environment, an interior designer will put the power of colours to use by stimulating energy and productivity. As the lines between corporate meetings, private work sessions and coffee dates with clients blur, offices are increasingly being designed with collaboration in mind. In such a case, colour schemes should work towards fostering a sense of calm, creativity and positive energy. Pallets of blues, greens and yellows have been found to help people relax and stay alert.
It is generally well appreciated that little good comes out of sitting at a desk for hours at a time with no inviting space to move around. The state of physical wellbeing exists not only in the absence of disease and unwellness. Rather it is a collective notion of lifestyle behavioural choices. Many of these choices are made easier when the space in which we reside provide access to sources of food, visual stimulants and movement.
People can be subconsciously persuaded to make certain decisions by their environment. If physical wellbeing is feeling good and functioning well, interior design has the capacity to promote physical wellness. Being physically active has been shown to reduce symptoms of physical and mental ill-health and reduced physical wellbeing has been associated with overcrowded rooms. With this in mind, design strategies should consider the space in which employees operate to include the capacity for appropriate indoor physical movement. Such design strategies might include the introduction of shared communal spaces for movement and interaction, separate keyspaces with stairs only access, and the encouragement of movement and exercise in offices.
Through lighting, colour and space alone, interior design plays a central role in enhancing the well-being of employees. A happier, healthier workforce equates to a happier, healthier business, almost every time.