The Psychology of Workspace Design: How It Impacts Employee Wellbeing

The Influence of Workspace Design on Employee Health

Transforming the design of a workspace can serve as a powerful tool in supporting the emotional wellbeing of employees within a modern working ecosystem.

We thought we would delve into the importance of workspace design and how it can serve to enhance the physical and emotional health of workers across your organisation.

Bringing together workspace design and employee wellbeing

A recent 2023 workplace survey has found more than four in five office workers with a great workplace experience attribute it to being able to effectively choose where they work within their office space. With the rapid adoption of hybrid working, remote working and flexible working models, organisations are moving away from the traditional office layout – think outdated cubicles, tired breakout spaces and disengaged employees, which often result in decreased productivity and morale.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Health and wellbeing at work 2023 survey identified three benefits for employers who have focused their attention on employee wellbeing: better staff morale and engagement, a healthier and more inclusive culture, and lastly, a better life balance. By taking a more considered approach to your workspace design, offices can become a bustling hub of collaboration, with multifunctional workspaces, innovative technologies and a more holistic approach in creating segmented areas that fully cater to employee needs.

What is meant by employee wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing can encompass several key areas:

  1. Physical wellbeing: workspaces should be free from hazards and mitigate health risks, such as common aches, sprains, and repetitive strain injuries.
  2. Mental wellbeing: coworking spaces should fully support collaboration across various teams. Employee Assistance Programmes, mentoring programmes and mental health training for managers can also form key parts in establishing employee wellbeing programmes that enhance their mental health and wellbeing.
  3. Career wellbeing: organisations should provide opportunities for workers to progress and take on exciting opportunities.
  4. Social wellbeing: employees can connect with like-minded individuals and share ideas that allow for personal and professional growth.
  5. Financial wellbeing: organisations should look after the financial wellbeing of staff with vital resources around money management and saving for the future.
  6. Community wellbeing: the workspace should be designed to become a social hub for workers to get together and create work-based communities.


We look at how your workspace design can help you achieve this, which can result in increased staff retention and satisfaction.

A considered office layout

The office layout should reflect the needs of all users. This will require a thoughtful strategy to assess the unique requirements of each team or business. Whether it’s creating collaborative spaces, tranquil focal areas or welcoming coworking sections, your workspace design should remain flexible to allow for future growth:

  • Create workspaces in line with employee roles and requirements: designate areas that can effectively support the wellbeing of all members of staff, which could include factoring in areas for group projects, formal meetings and social spaces.
  • Provide tools that complement existing processes: integrating innovative digital tools that thoroughly support workers at all levels of the organisation, alongside both hybrid and remote working.
  • Establish an appealing environment: an ambient temperature, ample natural light, light and airy colours and effective soundproofing can result in enhanced productivity.
  • Gaining regular feedback: employee wellbeing surveys and discussions with stakeholders to identify issues or concerns regarding the workspace design and can allow for required changes.


Ergonomic workstations

Creating workspaces for rest, individual tasks and group team building is essential in ensuring a positive experience for employees through your workspace redesign. This will include an assessment of current systems, processes, devices, and associated equipment, focusing on three key areas:

  • Physical ergonomics: workstations should be physically appealing, adaptable, support the physical load and provide ultimate comfort.
  • Cognitive ergonomics: ergonomic setups should feature technologies to help reduce the cognitive workload, such as accessing and finding required data on site or remotely.
  • Organisational ergonomics: spacious desks, portable laptops and effective soundproofing should all be factored into your workspace design to support existing processes and workflows.


Ergonomic seating 

Promoting good posture, especially for those who spend long hours in the office, ergonomic seating options should support the natural alignment of the body, promote circulation, and allow for necessary adjustments. Adaptable seating should also mitigate common concerns, such as back ache, aching wrists or stiff necks and joints and include the following areas:

  • Height and seat depth: seating will need to accommodate a range of body types, preferences and health conditions by adjusting the required height and seat depth where required.
  • Armchair positioning: armrests should be supportive, comfortable and remove any strain on the shoulders, neck and wrists.
  • Upper body support: provide headrests and backrests to support the head, neck and shoulders.
  • Lower body support: seat settings should follow the natural alignment of the lower back, knees, and legs, and provide much-needed lumbar support for the lower back.
  • Level of padding: seating should be comfortable and supportive, no matter which area the seating will reside.


Standing desks have also risen in popularity, as they can provide several health benefits for workers, such as improved posture, a much-needed energy boost and improved mood. Featuring this seating in your workspace design would be advantageous and can help to further enhance employee wellbeing and productivity.

Zones for socialising, collaborating and solo working

By segmenting different areas of the office into several purposeful sections, organisations can create a cohesive environment in which all team members can thrive. Areas should be split into the following areas:

Social spaces

  • Coworking: flexible office spaces with allocated coworking areas can support hybrid working models and provide networking opportunities to help workers meet likeminded individuals, learn new skills, springboard ideas, and collaborate on various projects.
  • Social stations: provide inviting spaces like as a coffee station to bring colleagues together and encourage regular breaks. The use of colours can also boost overall mood and support the emotional wellbeing of employees.


Collaboration spaces

  • Meeting rooms: these should be equipped with the latest technologies and soundproofing to allow for presentations, interviews, and workshops. Meeting rooms should also factor in whiteboards and large screens that allow for both physical and virtual meetings.
  • Private offices: these should be designed with top of the range ergonomic furniture, floor to ceiling windows for natural light and efficient heating and cooling systems to ensure optimal comfort.


Quiet spaces

  • Private Booths or Pods: quieter spaces will allow employees to concentrate on tasks or unwind. Managers or coworkers can also use soundproofed booths or pods for one-on-one check-ins or the completion of private tasks.


Creating sustainable spaces

Embedding environmentally friendly practices that focus on supporting employee wellbeing is vital when creating a sustainable workspace. This can be achieved in several ways.

  • Colour and light: Each space should have a designated colour to uplift mood, promote relaxation or allow workers to become energised. To achieve this, opt for low volatile organic compound (VOC) to minimise air pollutants. Natural light will also create a bright and inviting space.
  • Smart technologies: energy efficient lighting, smart thermostats and HVAC systems can improve air quality and reduce energy consumption. Smart appliances can also help to reduce your water consumption and overall waste reduction.
  • Sustainable building materials: recycled or renewable resources can ensure that organisations adhere to sustainable building certifications, such as LEED or BREAM.
  • Introduce plants: the use of greenery can help to improve the look and atmosphere of the office, promote fresh air circulation, boost productivity and reduce worker stress and anxiety.


Fostering a community-led culture

Beyond everyday aesthetics, your workspace design will directly influence employee comfort, and promote a culture of positive wellbeing, values and ways of working. Investing in comfortable seating, ergonomic workstations, ambient lighting, and effective soundproofing will provide physical comfort, and also highlight a commitment to ensure enhanced staff morale and performance.

Additionally, collaborative spaces, such as designated coworking can help to combat feelings of isolation that can often be associated with remote working. By designing a collaborative, welcoming and inclusive workspace, colleagues can bond over coffee, reduce stress, and build meaningful relationships. Hosting internal community events and social gatherings outside of the office that can bring different teams together and create an inclusive community where people feel valued and connected.  Our informative guide, building a community at work, covers this in further detail.

For those facing mental health challenges, seeking support is essential for your emotional wellbeing. Here are some common resources, in which to receive much needed support:

  • access local support with workshops, online guidance and information., anytime, anywhere
  • receive confidential support and gain further advice regarding mental health law
  • if you are struggling to cope, the Samaritans can offer much needed confidential support when you need it most
  • provides the tools needed to enable young people to better their mental health