Jeni Wilkie, director at Eatock Design and Build, explores how the design of workspaces will evolve in 2024 and how her and her team design with employee wellbeing in mind.
Moving beyond aesthetics, a thoughtfully planned office layout becomes a catalyst for cultivating a work atmosphere that is not only aesthetically pleasing but can reduce stress levels and improve productivity. At EDB, we understand innovative designs that go beyond visual appeal, as we are constantly keeping up to date with trends especially those that enhance staff wellbeing.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, there’s no getting around it: flexible working is here to stay. As employees have adapted to working in the comfort of their own homes, your workplace must fit your staff’s needs to help encourage them to work in the office. According to the latest figures from ONS 67% of workers say that they feel less connected to their colleagues when working from home. When acknowledging the paradigm shift from remote work, a critical need to transform the office into an collaborative and wellbeing-centric space emerges. To achieve this, here are some design tips that we will see more of in 2024:
Integrating plants into the office environment is not merely about enhancing visual aesthetics, there are additional health benefits too. Office plants have been proven to alleviate stress, foster creativity, and contribute to overall improved mental and physical health. Nurturing our mental health often involves spending time outdoors, which can be a challenge for people working 9-5 jobs, especially during the colder months.
An effective method to bridge this gap is integrating plants into your workspace, offering a means to reconnect with nature within your workspace. You could do this by providing desk plants for your staff or a large statement piece that brings character to your office. Research has shown that regular interaction with plants can significantly reduce stress. Additionally, plants serve a dual purpose by acting as natural air purifiers, filtering indoor pollutants, infusing the air with oxygen, and maintaining a fresh and invigorating atmosphere in your office.
Fostering inclusivity in design
Prioritising inclusivity in your office design is one of the most important considerations when trying to increase your employees’ wellbeing. Ensuring that you communicate with your staff to understand their physical or developmental needs so that they can perform to their highest standard is massively important when fostering an inclusive workspace. Failing to customise the workspace to meet individual needs can impact employee wellbeing negatively and deter potential talent. The best way to ensure that your office design is inclusive is to communicate with your team and to ensure that you have multiple different types of working environment.
We have seen an increase in dedicated spaces in offices where employees can unwind during breaks, effectively creating a distinction between work at their desks and relaxation or socialisation – we can expect to see more of this in 2024. This not only makes your company a desirable place to work but also significantly enhances your team’s overall wellbeing. Chancergygate, a commercial property developer, is a perfect example of an office that has undertaken a refurbishment, prioritising the enhancement of its team’s wellbeing. By incorporating designated social spaces and activities, they have transformed their office into an inviting and conducive work environment.
The positive impact of social interactions on employees’ wellbeing cannot be overstated. Establishing connections with colleagues cultivates a sense of belonging and fosters identification with the company culture, playing a pivotal role in engaging and retaining loyal employees over the long term.
At EDB, we’ve seen a growing demand for extensive windows and the integration of natural lighting into office design. This demand is understandable since natural lighting tends to have a positive impact on both mental and physical wellbeing.
Especially during the darker months of the year, maximising exposure to natural light proves effective in warding off seasonal depression. Natural lighting facilitates the production of vitamin D, enhances circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, and contributes to heightened focus.
Beyond the health benefits, incorporating natural lighting into your workspace also carries financial advantages for your business, concurrently reducing energy costs while fostering improved mental wellbeing within your team.
In cases where improved or enhanced natural lighting is not an option, LED bulbs are an efficient option as they produce a brightness that effectively mitigates the mental and physical effects resulting from prolonged exposure to fluorescent lighting.
As well as lasting longer than normal bulbs, LED lights can save you between £4-£15 per bulb per year, depending on the wattage. These lights ensure a uniform and well-distributed illumination across the entire designated area. They also produce less heat and don’t expel harmful chemicals. LEDs therefore, are an effective all-encompassing solution for offices lacking in natural lighting.
Importing colours into your office
Considering the substantial time we spend in our offices and dedicate to our work, the design, and ambience of the workplace wield a direct influence on both employee wellbeing and productivity. Often, the careful selection and incorporation of colours in offices are underestimated. Colours have the power to impact mood, concentration, and creativity. At EDB, we take care to integrate colours in our office designs that align with the company’s branding, resulting in a more captivating overall design.
When introducing colours into the workplace, it is imperative to strike a harmonious balance between aesthetics and functionality. An assessment of your organisation’s culture and values becomes crucial: opt for colours that resonate with your company’s mission, vision, and values, thereby creating a unified and authentic atmosphere. For instance, a technology-focused company aiming for innovation may find vibrant colours conducive to stimulating creativity, whereas a healthcare organisation may lean towards calming colours that evoke a sense of tranquillity and healing.
We’ve noticed a growing emphasis among business owners on office designs that prioritise staff wellbeing, and we anticipate this trend continuing in 2024. A well-designed workspace, in alignment with a company’s core values, not only reflects the identity of your business but fosters creativity and achieving lasting success within the business.