Corporate interior decor tips: Here's how to design workplaces for employee well-being - Hindustan Times
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Corporate interior decor tips: Here's how to design workplaces for employee well-being

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Apr 06, 2024 06:50 AM IST

Corporate interior decor experts reveal a bulk of tips on how to design workplaces for employee well-being

Designing workplaces for employee well-being requires a thoughtful approach encompassing various elements to foster a positive and nurturing environment. At the core of this philosophy is the integration of natural light and soothing colours.

Corporate interior decor tips: Here's how to design workplaces for employee well-being (Photo by The BG)
Corporate interior decor tips: Here's how to design workplaces for employee well-being (Photo by The BG)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Saniya Kantawala, Principal Designer and Founder of Saniya Kantawala Design (SKD), shared, “Leveraging natural light by incorporating large windows and skylights enhances aesthetics and promotes productivity and overall mood among employees. Furthermore, soothing colours such as pastels and neutrals evoke a sense of calm and tranquillity in the workplace. These hues have a psychological impact, reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being. In addition to natural light and soothing colours, integrating elements inspired by cultural heritage can enrich the workplace experience. By incorporating art forms and design elements rooted in diverse cultures, workplaces can evoke a sense of connection and pride among employees.”

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She added, “In addition to natural light and soothing colours, integrating flexible seating arrangements with sensory design elements is vital for promoting employee well-being in the workplace. Flexible seating options, such as open and closed spaces or the removal of cubicles, encourage collaboration and provide employees with choices for their work environment. Complemented by sensory design elements like ambient music, pleasant scents, and tactile textures, this approach creates a dynamic and stimulating workspace that caters to diverse preferences and enhances overall mood and productivity among employees. By combining flexible seating with sensory design, workplaces can foster a more adaptable, inclusive, and enjoyable environment conducive to employee well-being.”

According to her, ergonomic furniture and spatial layouts designed to optimise comfort and functionality are crucial. She said, “Focussing on employee comfort and well-being enhances productivity and job satisfaction. Designing workplaces for employee well-being requires a holistic approach that integrates natural light, soothing colours, cultural elements, and ergonomic considerations. By creating thoughtful designs that prioritise employees' physical, mental, and emotional well-being, designers aim to enhance the quality of life and foster a positive work culture in modern workplaces.”

Rachna Agarwal, Founder and Design Ideator at Studio IAAD, opined, “In the realm of modern commercial spaces, the design ethos is evolving to prioritise the well-being of employees. Flexibility stands at the forefront of this evolution. Embracing the concept of flexi-spaces, companies are adopting adaptable, multipurpose interiors catering to employees' dynamic needs. This approach not only optimises spatial utilisation but also fosters collaboration and innovation. Whether through mobile dividers or ergonomic seating arrangements, the focus is empowering employees to thrive in their work environment.”

She revealed, “Biophilic design, incorporating natural elements into the built environment, has emerged as a transformative strategy for enhancing well-being. Greenery, such as planters and living walls, enhances aesthetics and improves air quality, ventilation, and overall ambience. Biophilic design promotes holistic wellness among employees by fostering a connection with nature. Collaborative workspaces have become integral to cultivating a culture of productivity and innovation. Open layouts and activity-based working environments encourage interaction, knowledge sharing, and creativity among employees. These spaces facilitate teamwork and problem-solving, contributing to a more vibrant and engaged workforce.”

Given that the principle of form following function guides the transformation of common areas within workplaces, Rachna Agarwal said, “Reception areas and cafeterias are more than just functional spaces but vibrant hubs for engagement and relaxation. Organisations create environments that inspire creativity and foster a sense of community among employees by designing these areas to facilitate informal interactions and collaboration. In conclusion, designing workplaces for employee well-being requires a holistic approach that integrates flexibility, biophilic elements, collaborative spaces, and functional design principles. By prioritising employees' physical, mental, and social well-being, organisations can create environments that support productivity, innovation, and overall satisfaction in the workplace.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Mitu Mathur, Director at GPM Architects and Planners, said, “Considering that people spend most of their time in their work environment, office spaces are one of the most crucial spaces that affect our physical and psychological wellness. Designing a workplace that caters to employee well-being in the modern era requires careful analysis and consideration of user preferences, needs, and work habits. Trends in work ethics have taken an adaptable and flexible approach, demanding that workplaces step up and deliver.”

Asserting that design interventions should include incorporating flexible seating arrangements, open workspaces, quiet zones, comfortable lounge areas and adjustable furniture to support different work styles, she said, “Office designs are required to foster collaboration by creating both formal and informal spaces for team discussions, brainstorming, and impromptu meetings by integrating conference rooms with modern audio-visual equipment and comfortable seating to encourage effective communication. With co-working culture becoming increasingly popular, design provisions for personalisation, privacy, networking, and collaboration have become important. Users seek inclusive spaces that consider different cultural backgrounds, career fields and accessibility needs.”

Mitu Mathur pointed out, “Today, users are also highly environment-conscious and aware of their carbon footprint. Workers are looking for companies that align with their sustainable values and use workplace designs that cater to holistic wellness. Introducing greens in workspaces can aid human health and wellness. For instance, to get the desired indoor air quality and a bacteria-free environment, office spaces today incorporate indoor plants and moss walls and utilise refuge areas as green spaces. Furthermore, ergonomic furniture and relaxation areas for digital detox and physical interactions can allow them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

As per Amit Aurora, Partner at groupDCA, our built environments profoundly impact our physical and mental well-being and this thought holds particular weight within the context of workspaces. He explained, “We spend a substantial amount of our time in offices, grappling with evolving social and technical challenges and honing a set of skills that define not only our professional trajectory but also our personal growth. As the nature of work itself evolves due to advancements in technology, global events, and cultural shifts, it is only natural for workspace design to adapt to such change. The contemporary Indian workplace in tier-1 and 2 cities is undergoing a metamorphosis, transitioning from rigid, compartmentalised spaces to a dynamic arrangement that celebrates multifunctionality and inclusivity. This shift envisions a vibrant ecosystem that caters to diverse workstyles and individual needs, ultimately enhancing productivity and employee well-being.”

He elaborated, “The hallmark of multifunctional design lies in its ability to offer a symphony of spaces that allows employees to choose their work environment based on the task at hand, fostering efficiency and a sense of agency and control. Beyond open-floor layouts and contemporary aesthetics, workspaces must be designed to be inclusive and cater to the diverse needs of its occupants. For instance, accessible workstations with adjustable heights and integrated assistive technologies ensure comfort and functionality for individuals with varying requirements. At the same time, designated DND rooms and sleeping pods acknowledge the importance of time management and well-being for a broader range of employees. Ultimately, inclusive spaces transform the workplace into a genuinely community-focused space and ensure that every employee is valued and their well-being is prioritised.”

Biophilic design also plays a pivotal role in shaping tranquil environments by enabling a connection with nature, alleviating stress and restoring mental balance. Amit Aurora shared, “A colour palette composed of warm, inviting colours can also produce a soothing workspace that encourages clear thinking and creative processes. As architects and designers of the modern era, we are responsible for embracing innovative design solutions that meet the requirements of current situations. Today's workspaces are a vibrant orchestra of areas, each catering to a specific work style and fostering a sense of belonging for a diverse workforce. By prioritising these factors for workspace design, we can pave the way for a future of workspaces that are not just functional and accessible but truly inclusive and human-centric.”

Echoing that designing workplaces for employee well-being involves creating environments prioritising comfort, productivity and overall satisfaction, Harsh Varshneya, Principal Architect at STHAPATI, said, “With offices operating for an average of 16 hours a day, the design of workspaces should invigorate the environment, breaking away from the monotony of traditional office settings. As architects and designers, we should engage in a thoughtful dialogue between materials used on walls and floors, creating a cohesive narrative throughout the space. Incorporating smaller elements like sensor-based lighting adds a dynamic element, ensuring the workspace remains bright and inviting throughout the day. This attention to detail enhances the visual appeal and contributes to a stimulating and productive work environment.”

Given that office spaces today revolve around the idea of collaborative working, making the workspace fit for different uses by different age groups at different times of the day, Harsh Varshneya said, “This adaptability is crucial in accommodating evolving workstyles, ensuring that the office remains functional and relevant in a rapidly changing work environment. This is achieved by incorporating elements such as ample natural light and views of the outdoors, which reduce eye strain, improve mood, and enhance productivity. Flexible and adaptable spaces promote collaboration and creativity, while biophilic design elements, like plants and natural materials, improve air quality and create a calming environment. Providing ergonomic furniture supports good posture and reduces the risk of health issues while minimising noise distractions with sound-absorbing materials and quiet zones enhances acoustic comfort.”

He concluded, “Using colour psychology and lighting design creates a stimulating and energising environment that enhances mood and well-being. Community spaces like lounges or communal kitchens foster a sense of belonging and social interaction. Integrating technology that supports flexible working practices promotes work-life balance. Overall, by incorporating these principles into workplace design, employers can create environments that prioritise employee well-being and lead to a more engaged and productive workforce. As the world navigates the future of work, we must recognise the profound impact that well-designed, adaptable workspaces can have on employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being.”

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