With a growing emphasis on mental well-being in the office, research from the mental health experts at Mind UK suggests that 60% of employees would feel more motivated if their employer actively supported their mental well-being. So, it’s time to take mental health seriously at work–after all, organisations perform better when their employees are healthy, motivated and focused.

That’s why, in today’s post, we’ll be discussing how you can adapt your office design to better promote well-being in working environments. From choosing color schemes that promote calmness and collaboration to considerate staff bathroom designs that enable cycle-to-work schemes, with these tips, you can ensure your office design is doing more to positively influence staff morale and mental well-being.

Choose color carefully

Particularly if yours is a modestly sized office space, the color of the decor can be very impactful on employees’ ability to think creatively and can encourage the free flow of ideas. If the room feels clinical – for example, if it’s painted white and doesn’t house any plant life or interesting features – there’s every chance your employees will feel ambivalent rather than energized when entering the space.

However, there are plenty of ways to remedy a lacklustre interior while also catering to your working needs, by choosing the right colors and decorative details that will have a positive impact on employees’ working mentality and well-being.

Firstly, establish the specific types of working environments needed within your office space and then designate zones based on these environments. This way, you can adapt the color palette to suit certain tasks. According to the experts, office spaces with zones can be great for productivity, wellness and encouraging collaboration, particularly if your office design comprises a single room.

For quiet zones where productivity is key, opting for cool and calming blues can work to stimulate the mind – this could involve sky blue walls or subtler accents such as decorative accessories or furniture in varying shades of blue.

For collaborative areas of the office, we’d suggest introducing yellow tones for a fresh, energetic feel endorsed by psychologists as a way to encourage innovation and optimism. As with any bright colors, though, be conscious of keeping the decor balanced so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming and have the opposite effect to what was intended. Pops of bright color work best here, whether that’s brightly colored sofas with patterned cushions or some eye-catching Bauhaus-esque wall art.

In meeting rooms, the palette should be geared towards nature, with green hues that bring a sense of calm, tranquility and balance that will ensure you always keep a clear head. A simple solution is to update your existing room with the addition of some striking indoor plants – or artificial alternatives, if you’d prefer a more low-maintenance option. Instantly bringing color and texture, as well as working to clean the air, the injection of greenery is a quick and effective way to create a calm space that’s primed for meetings.

As with any small business interior decor, the key with office design that prioritizes well-being is to strike the right balance, ensuring color usage is inspirational and impactful for all the right reasons. If you’re unsure which color is going to work best in your office, this resource provides a good insight into the different effects color can have.

Encourage exercise

Fitting in social commitments alongside work makes creating time for a regular workout routine particularly difficult. However, exercise is great for giving us energy, improving our mood and lowering stress, which translates as a suitable solution for improving job performance.

There are numerous small changes you can make to help employees lead a healthier, more active lifestyle at work. If you have a large workspace, could be as simple as installing a stand-up working zone to combat the sedentary trend that’s currently causing concern in all manner of workplaces. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal area, either – installing a simple standing-height workbench in communal areas, like a breakfast bar, could provide the perfect spot for impromptu meetings to get staff out of their chairs.

Another option could be to encourage staff members to ditch the car or bus in favor of walking, cycling or running into the office each day. Naturally, this solution may require some upgrades to bathroom facilities to include showers and changing rooms, but the extra investment could be worth it and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you have the budget and space, adapting existing bathrooms to incorporate changing and showering facilities for staff could be a great way to accommodate a more active commute. For an easy-to-maintain option that will also make even the most modest sized bathroom appear larger, opting for neutral colored large format tiles could be the way to go – practical, timeless and durable, you’ll have a floor that will last for years. With the option to freshen up after a rigorous commute, this could be just what staff need to get moving and reap the benefits of endorphins as they start their day with a more energized mindset.

Of course, this option isn’t always practical or feasible in a small office space, but there are other ways to coax employees away from their desks and get outside. Think about putting up motivational posters that encourage staff to get active, or post details of nearby walking trails for a lunchtime walk – the breath of fresh air and cardio could be the perfect way to clear the mind and recharge during the working day. Introduce an incentive to exercise at lunch within the workplace and you could have the recipe for a successful implementation that will all go towards creating a healthier workplace overall, as well as a sense of team solidarity.

Offer working flexibility

Whether a flexible working routine in your office involves compressed work days, flexible hours or working from home, many employers are increasingly offering their staff more control over their working hours in small businesses.

With greater flexibility, employees are more able to meet the needs of their family, personal obligations and life responsibilities with much less hassle and stress – making for a better work-life balance. Even simple tasks, such as picking the children up from school, are made easier – relieving your employees of great inconvenience in their day-to-day routine. Better yet, flexi-hours allow employees to work when they feel most productive, which is undoubtedly beneficial to the quantity and quality of work that they produce.

When it comes to your office design and adapting it to flexible working hours, desk ‘hoteling’ could be the answer. This method moves away from traditional pre-assigned desks, cubicles and offices, allowing staff to reserve their workspace for when they actually need it. This bolsters the ability for staff to be more flexible with their working hours and is particularly helpful in making more efficient use of small office spaces characteristic of small businesses, as well as potential cost savings.

To successfully implement a desk ‘hoteling’ model requires good planning and communication with staff, as it’s only going to work if you get everyone on board. Let’s face it – there will always be resistance to change. Start by outlining how this concept will benefit both broader company objectives and the individuals – giving workers more freedom and flexibility to work when and where they want, encouraging better team collaboration and making the office a more efficient and productive place.

In terms of the practicalities and logistics of this model, you need to gain a firm grasp of current desk usage and gauge its potential use – this is where getting employees involved is key, as you’ll need to be sure it will work for them. Ensuring there are ample desks and work areas for everyone is paramount, so be sure to implement a robust desk reservation system that’s easy to use and displays real-time data. This way, you can avoid any awkward overlaps or desk-sharing conflicts. It also goes without saying that there should be a cap on how long you can reserve a desk for – negating the temptation for individuals to lay claim to a certain spot every day of the week. This could be subject to your own internal system or you could, alternatively, invest in desk reservation software if you have the budget.

When considering your office layout, prevent the space from feeling sterile and soulless by embellishing the area with artwork on the walls and some injections of color. For workstations, make them look more attractive and personal with a couple of small pot plants and other colorful features that will introduce a fun and welcoming element.

If carried out successfully, the overall benefits of this model will allow you to create a more productive and efficient working environment that puts the needs of employees first, all while feeding the organization’s bottom line.

Awareness of the importance of mental health at work is, thankfully, increasing by the day, and placing your employees’ wellness at the forefront of your operations could deliver meaningful returns when it comes to employee retention and company revenue. With these insights, we hope you’ll find effective ways to create a working environment that embodies this culture and recognizes the importance of mental health and  well-being in the workplace.

Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the UK’s largest independent tile distributors and retailers – bringing design inspiration to homeowners, architects and developers.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash