The office is not just for work, it’s a place to meet and share ideas. This is a place for selling, for mentoring: interviews, meetings, pitches, private phone conversations. Every person in the company should feel relaxed enough in it to perform to their best ability, so it’s important to evoke a feeling of home through comfort and familiarity.
Consider that 60 per cent of the UK population worked from home during Covid; many employees may be feeling anxious about returning to a central hub, even on a hybrid basis.
To help provide a smooth transition, home comforts should be incorporated into a working environment.
Comfort doesn’t mean a proliferation of rugs, cushions and ornaments: a commercial space can be professional and cosy at the same time. In our own office, we have:
- Colours from the Dulux Colour Futures palette: the pinks and mauves are welcoming and move away from any intimidating corporate clichés.
- A thick textured carpet that delivers more warmth.
- Our TV set into the wall, which is covered with cork panelling – natural, re-used textures add to the feeling of comfort, alongside art.
- Plenty of plants: biophilia recognises that humans have an innate need to seek connections with nature and respond well to it.
Access to outdoor areas is important as people need fresh air and exercise. The Office of National Statistics revealed that almost half the population are spending more time outside since Covid and 42 per cent of adults agree that, “nature and wildlife is more important than ever to my wellbeing”.
A homely workplace could also help prevent additional stress, which can only be a good thing. In 2019/20 there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This represents 2,440 per 100,000 workers and results in an estimated 17.9 million working days lost.
A healthy workplace is vital to ensure your team is happy to come back and perform their role effectively for the long-term.
Now, more than ever, our offices need to make us feel comfortable.
Ollie Plastow is director at Consensus Workspace