6 April 2021

Workplace wellbeing – Designing offices to support your people

Workplace wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important topic. Mental health issues are on the rise, and working across a dispersed workforce poses new challenges around connectivity, culture and inclusivity.

Designing an office that optimises workplace wellbeing will not only offer solutions to these challenges but help to attract and retain top talent, boost productivity and inspire innovation.

Mental health issues are on the rise

More than 50% of adults said their mental health worsened during lockdown. Whilst 98% of employers agree that they are responsible for influencing employee health (and 37% expect their health and wellbeing budget to increase), 27% of employers don’t conduct any research to understand employee needs.

Optimising workplace wellbeing all starts with discovering how your employees work most effectively. Each element of design should consider their physical, mental and social wellbeing to create fulfilling, productive and inspiring places to work.

Activity based working supports workplace wellbeing

In the traditional office, leaders wanted to see their employees in the office ‘working efficiently’. This often pressured employees to work long hours, resulting in a decline in productivity, employee wellbeing and mental health.

Workplace wellbeing – Designing offices to support your people

To empower people to work better, organisations need to recognise the different tasks employees do and create the right spaces and tools to achieve them. The office should support activities that can’t be completed at home or anywhere else – this might be training, learning, innovation and collaboration. 

As more organisations start to embrace hybrid working (a mix of working from the office or remotely at home/ another location), there will be new opportunities to work efficiently from various settings. This has the potential to improve employee wellbeing and productivity, giving people the freedom of choice in how, when and where they work. 

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"Employee experience and business performance are dramatically improved if you provide your people with everything they need to do their best work."

Craig Murray, Workplace Strategy and Design Director at TSK

AJ Bell - designing one of the top-performing workplaces in the world

We worked in partnership with AJ Bell (one of the UK’s fastest-growing investment companies)  to design and build an office that not only ranked as one of the top-performing workplaces in the world but helped them become one of the ‘Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For’. 

One of AJ Bell’s main drivers was to create a workplace that would improve employee wellbeing. By collaborating with their leadership team and engaging employees, we understood what people needed from the office and the experience they wanted to create. With this in mind, every element of our design had a reason for being.

By implementing activity-based working, AJ Bell’s new office gives people a choice of places to meet, work and collaborate. Employees have access to a range of facilities, including a state-of-the-art gym, training and seminar suite, e-learning zone, amphitheater, rooftop terrace and bar. The environment is not only fit for purpose but fit for the people who use it every day, improving employee satisfaction, connectivity, productivity and overall health and wellbeing.

Leesman results

Leesman is the world’s largest independent assessor of employee workplace experience. These results show AJ Bell’s workplace transformation, moving from a traditional layout to an activity-based workplace. 

Gains in comparison to Leesman’s global average:

  • Employment – 33% increase in the enjoyment of the workplace.
  • Productivity – 29% increase in employees being able to work productively.
  • Culture – 31% increase on the positive impact of workplace culture.
  • Pride – 30% increase in people being proud of their workplace.
  • Community – 22% increase in the sense of community in the workplace.

The impact of sensory design

People are craving reconnection – with each other and their company culture –  so organisations must focus on design solutions that encourage human connection. Sensory design can help re-engage people as they return to the office. Understanding how sight, sound, smell, touch and taste affect emotions and behaviours is a powerful aspect of a sensory design experience.

Here’s a brief break-down of how the five senses can impact the health and wellbeing of your employees:


The way your office looks – the colour-scheme, lighting and use of natural elements – can influence the way your employees feel. Natural daylight, biophilic design and views to the outside world can all enhance employee wellbeing.


As offices become more collaborative, and noisy, we need to think about how sound pollution can impact workplace wellbeing and productivity. Your office design may need to incorporate quiet spaces where employees can take private calls or carry-out uninterrupted focus work.

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"Sound in a space affects us profoundly. It changes our heart rate, breathing, hormone secretion, brain waves, it affects our emotions and our cognition."

Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business and chairman of The Sound Agency


Smell is the closest sense linked to memory and is a critical part of workplace design. It can help to create a lasting impression, increase concentration or improve our overall mood.


Providing snacks and drinks or ensuring the kitchen area is well equipped with tea and coffee can create a sense of community within the office, promoting employee wellbeing. 


Different textures and surfaces help to make your team feel warm and comfortable. Natural materials like wood and textiles are often associated with a ‘warm, cosy feeling’

Using biophilic design to stimulate senses

In 1984, Edward Wilson defined biophilia as “…the innate affiliation people seek with other organisms and especially the natural world.”

Humans long for a connection with nature, and so bringing the outdoors into our offices can help ignite that same feeling of calm that is created when we’re  outdoors. By stimulating our senses naturally, the benefits to creativity, productivity and health and wellbeing flourish.

Learn more about biophilic design here.

It’s all about people

People sit at the heart of every business, and so the office should be designed with, and for, your team. By bringing employees into the design journey – helping them understand how to use the tools and spaces effectively –  you’re more likely to create meaningful change, positively impacting health and wellbeing across the organisation. 

If you want to talk to our team about how your office design can optimise workplace wellbeing, we’re here to help.

Get in touch

We design everything with our clients’ end-user in mind because we believe it creates better customer and employee experiences.

Get in touch with our team to find out how we can support you here.

Inspiring Workplace Wellbeing - Whitepaper
Inspiring Workplace Wellbeing - Whitepaper

Workplace wellbeing is an essential part of running a successful business. ‘Inspiring Workplace Wellbeing’ brings together insight and opinion from TSK and Carter Corson.

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