The Office Environment: Taking Inspiration from The Giants

Let’s face it, not everyone can afford a slide next to the staircase or a nap pod in their office. But with studies showing that the office environment is having a big impact on employee wellbeing and productivity, small and medium sized businesses do need to adapt their working spaces to suit the needs of the ever changing workforce.

Here are some tips on how to use the winning design methods behind some of the best companies in the world to improve the wellbeing of your employees.

Bring The Outdoors In

This is more than just a design trend. Bringing in a touch of the outdoors can dramatically improve the emotional wellbeing of your staff. Replacing features like dark carpets with lighter shades of green which gives the feeling of grass and using raw materials like wood, introduces the sense of a more natural space.

Plants are often a great option if you’re up against a small budget. There have been many studies into the effect that plants have on workers in an office environment. A study conducted by Exeter University concluded that employees were up to 15% more productive when their office was filled with just a few houseplants.

Google HQ - London
Google HQ – London

Large companies like Google & Innocent have been using this style of design in their headquarters for years and are listed amongst some of the best places to work in the UK.

‘Fruit Towers’ Innocent Smoothies HQ in London

Keep It Open

A great way to encourage employees to socialise more in the workplace is to keep the space open. Limit the amount of partition walls you use in your design and keep meeting spaces interesting by introducing glass walls. This is also gives the feeling of trust and transparency which boosts company culture as well as wellbeing.

The problem with open spaces is that sometimes employees need a quiet space to think and work. This can be solved by creating areas sectioned off by desk pods or (if you have the space) create a quiet room, closed off from office distractions, that can be booked out by employees when they need it.

EMO, a marketing agency in Bristol, use sectioned off booths and glass fronted meeting rooms to separate their open plan office.

EMO Offices - Bristol
EMO Offices – Bristol

Introduce Some Colour

Studies show that colours in our surroundings impact our emotions and mental wellbeing. This is important when you’re choosing colours for your office walls and furniture.

Colours such as blues and greens evoke feelings of calmness and relaxation aiding wellbeing, whilst colours like oranges, reds and yellows help spark creativity, encourage activity and increase innovation.

When choosing your office colour pallet, you should think about the nature of your business, your companies’ values and how you want your employees to feel when they’re at work.

Another of Google’s offices in Perth use their strong brand pallet in this vibrant office space.

Google HQ - Perth
Google HQ – Perth

Encourage Active Working

Over the past few years there has been an increase in different forms of ‘active working’ to help improve both the wellbeing of employees and their general health.

Active working can be encouraged in a few different ways.

Walking meetings – Encourage Staff to take walking meetings either around the office (if it’s large enough) or outside.

Standing Desks – Standing desks give employees the chance to choose whether they would like to sit or stand whilst they work. These types of desks are adjustable and adapt to the way employees want to work throughout the day. Standing desks have a number of health benefits and can help reduce back pain caused by sitting for long periods of time.

Walking Desks – Similar to standing desks, walking desks have a treadmill attached to them which allows employees to take walks whilst they work. Studies show that staying in one position for long periods of time can lead to certain health problems, walking desks could help reduce these risks.

Office Gym – Introducing an office gym is great for encouraging an active workforce. Gym memberships are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with younger employees and having an accessible gym in the office will increase the number of people keeping fit and healthy, leading to better physical and mental wellbeing.

Have A Break

An active lifestyle is great but sometimes employees need time to relax and take a break. Having a dedicated breakout space is an important part of creating a happy environment for your staff. Introduce both tables for eating and soft areas such as beanbags and sofas to give staff a choice of how they spend their breaks.

If you’ve got the space, fun aspects such as ping pong or football tables are great things to introduce into the office as they encourage more interaction between staff and ultimately boost morale.

Facebook’s European HQ in Dublin has a vibrant breakout space for employees to use when they need a well-earned rest.

For more advice on employee wellbeing in the workplace get in touch with one of the team at