Public Health England’s 2015 report on the impact of physical environments on employee wellbeing makes various key recommendations for action. The report states that office environments need to be able to accommodate the various tasks and specific needs of the workforce.
One clear way of helping with health and wellbeing is for employees to feel they have the right degree of control over their physical workspace. This can help improve performance, job satisfaction and cohesiveness.
It is also important for employees to feel they have the right degree of privacy in the workplace. Modern, open-plan office designs can be a source of stress if people feel they are constantly under scrutiny or do not have enough privacy to work effectively.
Getting the Balance Right
“Employees need to feel valued, and have some privacy. But businesses also need to be able to facilitate a sense of openness,” observes Ajaz Haq, office design specialist and Director of Sales and Marketing at Form Interior Contracts.
Ajaz believes that breakout areas are the key to striking the right balance between worker privacy, encouraging cohesiveness and providing suitable rest areas.
“Breakout areas enable businesses to focus on employee wellbeing and encourage collaborative thinking because they are multi-functional”
The Comfortable Compromise
In many ways, breakout areas represent a compromise solution to shared office space: they should work at encouraging individual relaxation time but also enable people to take their work issues away from more formal surroundings and discuss them in a comfortable, informal environment.
“The key is to commit fully to designing and fitting out your breakout area,” explains Ajaz. “While it offers a compromise between rest and work, it shouldn’t feel in any way half-hearted”
This means getting the practical details right: the colour scheme; the type of furniture; kitchen facilities; ensuring that the noise level is kept down. The effective breakout area works as a multi-purpose space, which means how it is designed must enable it to work in this way.
“It’s not about simply making a space and throwing some furniture together. It should be to do with getting the psychology of the space right, and understanding how it helps set the tone, and how it should reflect the values of the business itself”
A well-designed office space with breakout areas can influence how employees perceive they are treated, and valued. It can help them feel refreshed so that they can recommence their work with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
To discover how to improve employee wellbeing in your workplace, please call Form Interior Contracts on 0161 410 0010 or visit form-furniture.co.uk to see their range of solutions.