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The Impact of Poor Office Design on Employee Well-being and Productivity

We can all agree that office spaces have undergone significant transformations through the decades to align with the demands of the modern era.

Gone are the days of the maze-like cubicles. Today, in 2023, offices boast spacious layouts with open floor plans that instill a sense of openness and collaboration. Your work best friend is no longer in a distant cabin but shares a table with you!

Around 2015, we also witnessed the incorporation of recreational amenities, such as ping pong tables and foosball, in the workspace to combat any stress and make it more enjoyable. This element of leisure is a game-changer and also an effective way to enhance employee bonding.

However, amidst these changing trends, one thing has remained constant, and that's the impact of the office environment on employee health and overall well-being.

In fact, the design of a workspace plays a pivotal role in creating a less stressful and more conducive atmosphere for productivity. What are the criteria you must keep in mind? Read ahead for more!


Research indicates that improving air quality can boost productivity by as much as 11%. In simpler terms, the air your employees breathe directly impacts their health and performance. To achieve this in 2023:

  • Make use of air purifiers, indoor plants, and other methods to reduce indoor pollutants.
  • Enforce a strict no-smoking policy indoors and designate a specific area for smoking.
  • Maintain a clutter-free and clean workspace.
  • Ensure optimal humidity levels.
  • Keep windows open to invite fresh air, enhancing the overall workplace environment.
  • Have regular ventilation checks and maintain the office's HVAC system to ensure it is working well.


Water plays a major role in our overall well-being. Research highlights that even a minor 1% dehydration can lead to a noticeable decline in worker productivity. Therefore, it's imperative to provide your employees with access to safe drinking water, as it can improve energy levels and mental clarity.

Here are the main steps you can take in 2023:

  • Install water coolers to ensure easy and convenient access to clean water.
  • Actively engage in educating your employees about the benefits of staying hydrated.
  • Encourage employees to take short breaks to rehydrate during the workday.
  • Consider supplying reusable, branded water bottles to employees, promoting hydration while reducing single-use plastic waste
  • Ensure that the office water supply consistently meets safety standards.


Offering nutritious and wholesome food choices to your employees not only energizes them for sustained productivity but also enhances their overall health and well-being.

Here are actionable steps to consider:

  • Replace unhealthy snack options in the office with fresh fruits and other nutritious alternatives, promoting better dietary choices among your workforce.
  • Cultivate a culture of mindful eating by prioritizing proper breaks and dedicated lunchtime.
  • Organize workshops or sessions on nutrition and healthy eating habits.


According to a study, employees positioned within a 10-foot proximity to a window experienced a remarkable 84% reduction in symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. Effective lighting not only enhances mood but also amplifies productivity.

Here are some steps to optimize workplace lighting:

  • Consider incorporating skylights and effective glare control
  • Prioritize layouts that maximize the utilization of natural light sources, ensuring workspaces are well-illuminated during daylight hours.
  • Take measures to eliminate any flickering lights, which can be a source of discomfort and distraction.
  • Pay attention to lighting ergonomics by providing adjustable lighting options for individual workspaces, allowing employees to customize their lighting based on their tasks and preferences.
  • Opt for a routine maintenance schedule to ensure that all lighting fixtures, including bulbs and controls, are in optimal working condition.


For individuals who primarily work from their desks, the sedentary nature of their work contradicts the need for physical movement. That’s what our bodies are meant to do. We need to move. An active lifestyle, characterized by regular movement, is essential for promoting blood flow to the brain, sustaining concentration, and maintaining energy levels.

To encourage this, consider these initiatives:

  • Establish a dedicated recreational space within the office, equipped with indoor sports and games.
  • Offer an on-site fitness facility complete with exercise equipment and shower amenities.
  • Offer guidance and educational resources on office chair yoga. This allows employees to perform simple yoga poses and stretches at their desks or using office chairs.
  • Advocate for regular short breaks throughout the workday, during which employees can stand, stretch, or take a brief walk.


Given that we dedicate a significant portion of our lives to the workplace, prioritizing employee comfort is vital. Providing the right ergonomic furniture, including ergonomic office chairs and desks, can greatly enhance well-being and productivity.

Ergonomic chairs are created to amplify your comfort by supporting your body's natural posture. These chairs provide crucial lumbar support, helping to maintain proper spinal alignment, reduce strain, and minimize discomfort during long work hours. Additionally, when combined with ergonomically designed office tables and workstations, they create a holistic ergonomic workspace that enhances productivity and well-being.

That's not all, ergonomic furniture, including tables and workstations, is designed to complement these chairs. This comprehensive setup leads to a healthier and more efficient work experience, which benefits both your physical comfort and productivity.

Also, creating distraction-free spaces within the office is crucial to sustaining high levels of productivity.

Here are actionable steps to achieve this:

  • Select ergonomic chairs and office desks that support proper posture and provide comfort during extended periods of work.
  • Establish dedicated areas within the office where employees can work without interruptions or distractions.
  • Create quiet work zones or private cubicles for tasks that demand the utmost concentration.
  • Offer flexible seating arrangements that allow employees to choose their workspace based on their tasks and comfort preferences.
  • Promote regular breaks to prevent burnout and enhance overall comfort.


The "Global Impact of Biophilic Design" study revealed that workplaces integrating natural elements resulted in a remarkable 15% boost in overall well-being, a 6% uptick in productivity, and a 15% surge in creativity among employees.

To enhance your workplace environment:

  • Create collaborative areas that facilitate brainstorming sessions and teamwork, promoting innovation and problem-solving.
  • Maintain an aesthetically pleasing office environment through thoughtful design choices, colors, and decor that resonate with employees and contribute to a more positive atmosphere.
  • Consider innovative outdoor elements like rooftop gardens or outdoor workspaces.

A thoughtfully designed workplace can significantly elevate health, well-being, job satisfaction, and overall performance. Embracing a human-centered approach to design, which includes creating spaces for relaxation and giving priority to employee comfort, offers straightforward yet powerful means to enhance the office environment.

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