How to Design Offices for Lower Stress and Higher Performance

Looking for ways to boost employee productivity and morale? Here are a few ways you can redesign your office space to reduce stress.

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How to Design Offices for Lower Stress and Higher Performance

Posted by Gary Ashton on Monday, January 31st, 2022 at 9:38am.

How to Design a Happy & Healthy Nashville OfficeBusinesses are looking for every edge to recruit, support, and retain top employees. Amid the rise of work-from-home culture, more and more Nashville companies are returning to their offices. They recognize they can redesign offices to make employees happier, healthier, and more productive. When it comes to designing the perfect office, buyers need to know what qualities to look for in the Nashville commercial real estate market. Keep reading to learn about the best workplace designs for less stress, more productivity, and happier employees.

Why Is the Design of the Workspace Important?

People don't do their best work unless they're calm and comfortable. A healthy, attractive workspace provides an atmosphere where people can find satisfaction in their workday and accomplish.

However, they have to be recruited before employees can do great work. To continue doing great work, they need an incentive not to leave. A well-designed workplace is critical for hiring and keeping talent in a limited labor force.

Changing demographics are making workplace design even more critical. Modern trends show that workers work best in teams and in peer-oriented environments. They are choosing companies that provide the types of workspaces they're at home in.

What Should a 21st-Century Workplace Look Like?

Imagine the chairperson of a community organization inviting people to their homes for a working session. Would the guests sit at desks lined up under banks of fluorescent lights? Would the host construct a labyrinth of cubicles? Of course not.

Everyone might be gathered around a table. They could be sitting on sofas and chairs in the living room. They might move from one arrangement to the other. In any case, they would situate themselves to talk freely and share notes.

The influential modern workplace looks more like an informal gathering than a 20th-century office. The traditional office was theoretically designed for efficiency, but not much thought was given to stimulating employee's creative juices. There are ways to do better.

Office Layouts for Today's Workstyle

Cubicles are becoming a relic of the past, and few people miss them. The majority of today's offices are open plan. However, it's not enough to tear down all the cube walls and call the redesign complete. The open plan must be implemented wisely.

The best modern workspaces are modular and adaptable. They can be used for multiple purposes and quickly rearranged when their purpose changes. In some flexible designs, there aren't even assigned workstations. People sit and work wherever is best for them at the time.

An efficient workspace has a combination of private and open areas. There might be conference rooms, smaller huddle rooms, community tables, and rearrangeable modular furniture.

Collaborative Work Spaces

The hallmark of collaborative workspaces is the common area. Some common areas are large meeting rooms and smaller huddle rooms for groups of four or fewer. There are also open common areas, consisting of a table and chairs or a group of sofas and armchairs arranged as in a typical living room.

Private Spaces

No matter how much today's workers like to team up, there are times they need to get away from solo work. One solution is the privacy pod, an enclosure within an open area. These can be placed to minimize background noise and walk-by disruption.

Another solution is the designated quiet zone. Yet another is repurposing small offices as private spaces to take a phone call, work alone, or take a chill break.

Setting a Productive Work Atmosphere

The most desirable workspaces are both physically and mentally healthy. Start with high-quality indoor air. It comes from air filtration systems, green cleaning methods, and a comfortable humidity level. Live plants are purifiers. Open windows are "a breath of fresh air," both literally and figuratively; they help eliminate the "cooped-up" feeling offices can have. Finding the right location for a commercial investment that will become an office makes a big difference. A space in a dimly lit alleyway won't lend itself to productivity the way a bright, open office in a convenient neighborhood will.

Intelligent use of lighting reduces dependence on fluorescents and makes an atmosphere that feels more natural. It means maximizing natural light, even adding a skylight if it's possible. It includes task and ambient lighting to supplement overhead lights for a softer and more comfortable layered lighting effect.

It's been said that extended sitting contributes to unhealthiness. The top workspaces offer breaks from sitting and make it better for people when they have to sit. Sit-stand desks and other ergonomic desks are a growing trend. Typical areas might have chairs of different heights to accommodate people of differing sizes. It also improves wellness to encourage movement. Ways to do that include providing bright, open stairways and locating restrooms and break rooms at a distance from most working areas.

Many offices provide food, either in cafeterias or break rooms. Indoor employees may not benefit from heavy meals and junk food. Fresh fruit and vegetable options, minimally processed food, healthy nutritional choices, and allergy labeling are becoming an expectation.

Amenities That Make a Difference

It isn't good for schoolchildren to go all day without recess, and adults need a break as well. A few minutes away from work does wonders to refresh a person's mind and body. Workout rooms and game rooms are big pluses for 21st-century employees. Outdoor spaces on rooftops and patios are reinvigorating, as are gardens with benches and walking paths.

Even in a comfortable workspace, the workday can be stressful. Employees welcome any amenity that allows them to relax and let some tension melt away.

Many of today's employees embrace alternate transportation, and more than a few make fitness part of their daily lives. Bicycle facilities are a big selling point, as are showers for cyclists and those who like a run before or during the workday. All in all, options for physical activity and spaces for structured break times are essential for productive offices.

A Workspace Advantage for the Future

The physical workplace is changing, and most employers and employees would say it's for the better. Businesses that redesign workspaces for satisfaction and productivity have a head start in hiring, motivating, and retaining employees looking to take advantage of the booming Nashville economy.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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