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Creating a Workplace that Supports Mental Health

In today’s world of work, it has become clear that 'knowledge workers' can work in almost any environment. With hybrid work becoming more prevalent, the boundaries between personal and professional spaces have become increasingly blurred. Now, more than ever, it's crucial to cultivate a workspace that not only fosters productivity but also nurtures mental health and wellbeing. With one in seven people experiencing mental health problems in the workplace, this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportune time to examine what businesses can do to their workspaces to support those who use them.

Understanding the Importance of Your Workspace on Your Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Our surroundings profoundly influence our mental wellbeing. A cluttered, chaotic environment can elevate stress levels and hinder concentration, while a thoughtfully curated space can inspire creativity and promote a sense of calm. When it comes to our workspace, these effects are magnified, as it's where we spend a significant portion of our time. We are also less likely to be able to control all of the immediate environment around us compared to when working from home or choosing another remote location.

In this blog, we explore how your organisation can use design and strategy to support the needs of its people and foster positive mental wellbeing.

9 Key Elements of a Workspace that Supports Mental Health

1. Biophilic Design

Natural light has a profound impact on our mood and productivity. Whenever possible, position your workspace near windows to maximise exposure to sunlight and natural air. Incorporating natural elements, such as plants or natural wood finishes, into your workspace not only creates a connection to nature but also improves air quality, reduces stress and boosts mood.

2. Ergonomic Design

Investing in ergonomic furniture is essential for maintaining physical health and preventing discomfort or injury. A supportive chair, an adjustable desk, and proper lighting can alleviate strain on your body and promote better posture, ultimately enhancing your overall wellbeing.

3. Declutter and Organise

Clutter can be overwhelming and distracting for most individuals, contributing to feelings of anxiety and disarray. Take time to declutter your workspace regularly, keeping only the essentials within reach. Implement organisational systems such as file folders, storage bins, or digital tools to maintain a tidy and productive workspace.

4. Personalisation and Comfort

Infuse your workspace with elements that bring you joy and comfort. Whether it's artwork, photographs, or meaningful objects, surrounding yourself with items that resonate positively can enhance your mood and productivity. Additionally, prioritise comfort, ergonomic accessories, and soothing scents to create a space that feels inviting and nurturing. Include your team in this process, and ask for their input on these elements to foster a sense of personalisation.

5. Evidence-based Design

Position your organisation's values at the heart of your workplace strategy. When designing your workspace it is important to ensure the environment creates a sense of community and encourages buy-in from your people. When your people have been given an active role in designing their surroundings, it naturally creates a sense of ownership and pride.

6. Mindfulness Zones

Designate areas within your workspace for mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or stretching exercises. Having a dedicated space for relaxation can help alleviate stress and promote mental clarity, allowing you to recharge and refocus throughout the day. Also keep in mind that people work best in different environments, by providing a variety of spaces for people to work from we enable them to choose the setting that best supports their needs.

7. Designing for Neurodiversity

Provide spaces that suit different types of working styles and support neurodivergent individuals. From quiet, less simulating focused areas to vibrant, tactile collaborative areas, giving people the choice and freedom to choose a setting suited to their needs. Knowing you can find a setting that suits you, supports everyone’s mental health and wellbeing and reduces the sense of fear and anxiety prior to entering the workplace is essential to the wellbeing of your people.

8. Technology Strategy

Technology within the workplace should be purposeful and seamless - preventing frustration and stress in your people's daily workflow. Establishing boundaries with technology to prevent digital overload can provide a healthier work-life balance. Encourage your people to establish dedicated screen time for digital tasks such as checking emails, while incorporating regular breaks to reduce eye strain and mental fatigue. Where possible motivate your people to take part in in-person collaboration, providing them with the opportunity to complete tasks that don't require digital tools.

9. Social Connection

Fostering social connections is essential for mental wellbeing. Create opportunities for interactions with colleagues through video calls, instant messaging, or collaborative projects. Create opportunities for people to take short breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout and allow time to refresh and recharge. Cultivating a sense of community and support within your workspace can combat feelings of isolation and enhance overall job satisfaction.

 

Creating a workspace that supports mental health is a holistic endeavour that encompasses physical, emotional, and environmental factors. By incorporating elements of natural light, ergonomic design, organisation, personalisation, mindfulness, tech boundaries, and social connection, you can craft a space where productivity thrives and wellbeing flourishes. Remember, your workspace should not only facilitate work but also nurture your people.

Find out more about designing a wellbeing-focused workplace and book a consultation with our workplace experts.

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