If you want to help employees feel motivated, take a closer look at your office design. Everything from the layout and the lighting to the furnishings and artwork on the walls can shape how they feel about the space—and how easily they can work in it. Is it safe, warm, and welcoming? Does it encourage them to be creative and collaborative? Does it allow for concentration and reflection when necessary?
Questions like these are important to ask when it comes to environmental or design psychology—the science of how people act and interact within the spaces they inhabit. Simply put, the environment we occupy for most of our day and its surroundings can make a huge impact on how we think, feel and behave in both conscious and subconscious ways. It’s not just the space itself but how it emotionally resonates with employees that can deepen their sense of connection and well-being at the office. It can inspire them to feel happier and more productive or leave them feeling constrained and stressed out.
Functionality has been the king of interior office design over the past few decades, with the open office plan dominating many workplaces. But now, the pendulum is swinging back to a more intentional usage of space and thoughtful consideration into how it can reinforce certain behaviors and activities. How can you use design psychology to make your workplace aesthetically pleasing, functional, and motivating for your staff? Incorporate these aspects:
No one wants to feel like they are stuck in a cubicle farm or isolated in a windowless office. Today’s employees want the freedom to choose how and where they work instead of sitting at an assigned spot all day. Modern offices should mimic living spaces that allow workers to adapt and move to meet their needs at the moment. Movable workstations and furniture enable teams to come together to share ideas or huddle up for a quick strategy session. Informal gathering rooms within open offices can create a relaxed space where conversations and creativity naturally flow. Folding screens, which can also double as inspirational art pieces, filter out noise and distractions and give workers a place for more focused or reflective work.
Modern offices are moving away from industrial-like fluorescent lighting in favor of LED fixtures and softer, warmer lighting with controls that allow workers to adjust brightness and color temperature. Bringing more focused light sources and natural light into the office has also been shown to improve alertness, mood, and productivity. Colors on the walls and in fabrics, furnishings, and decor can also evoke emotions that engage, stimulate or motivate. Warmer hues like red, orange, and yellow can energize a room and encourage innovation and collaboration, while cool colors like blue and green have a calming, rejuvenating effect. Use them to separate spaces throughout your workplace and create the vibe you want in each setting. And never underestimate the importance of using art to enrich your workplace—this stress-relieving element not only inspires it also encourages expression and ingenuity.
We all have an inherent need to connect with nature and green spaces. Research shows that evoking natural experiences in the workplace through biophilic design can help reduce stress and noise, improve air quality, and enhance creative thinking and problem-solving. Bring nature indoors with elements like living walls, live plants, and water features or use materials like unfinished wood, leaves, stones, and natural tones that emulate outdoor environments. Have a terrace or patio? Create outdoor nooks where employees can work while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
In today’s technology-driven world, employees need a tech setup that will help them work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Offices should incorporate tech tools, such as wireless charging stations, smartboards, and presentation screens, intuitively throughout the workspace. But from a more abstract perspective, employees also need to feel connected to their colleagues and the work they do. Providing a variety of spaces where they can gather, from breakout and meditation areas to coffee bars and game rooms, can build camaraderie and create a sense of shared culture and purpose.
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