In a time when mental health is a top priority for all of us, Boccus Paines Collin Fleck explains why we can’t ignore the forces of our environment that influence our sense of comfort, contentment and overall well-being.
Architecture is essentially about people. It’s about how people relate to their built environment and, by extension, each other. Moreover, happiness comes primarily from relationships. So if architecture has the ability to enhance our relationships, it can enhance our well-being. Being surrounded by an enriching environment definitely affects our emotional well-being. The environmental forces that influence well-being cannot be overlooked.
Creating happiness and mental health at work depends on how well the physical environment can facilitate these relationships. Simple, practical strategies like light, color, space, and layout help designers create stronger, healthier workplaces. In 2021, we moved our Bockus Payne headquarters to a new self-designed modern workplace. This process gave us first-hand experience as a company of how office design can promote (or impede!) relationships and employee morale. Since moving, our team culture has grown exponentially, much of which can be traced directly to practical design strategies that foster better relationships among staff.
Daylighting, Hierarchy, Happiness: Everyone Can Divide the Pie Equally
Daylight: Not a new concept, but an important one.A quick google search brings up dozens the study Although the use of daylight has been proven to make people feel better, many workplaces still relegate receptionists and junior staff to dark cubicles under intense fluorescent lighting to help their partners and executives. It has a bright and airy corner space. The organizing principle of the modern workplace is to make the most of daylight and ensure that everyone, regardless of rank, enjoys the daylight pie equally. This is a great way for companies to de-emphasize hierarchy. Workplace designers should always think about receptionists and interns. How do they access sunlight? The new Bockus Payne HQ celebrates sunlight and the staff are visibly happy. People walk in and immediately greet each other. It’s easy to start the day with a brightly lit space that encourages interaction.
Space and Color: Encouraging Warmth and Positivity
Along with light, space is very important in designing a healthy workplace. The principles of light and space actually go back to Gothic architecture and, much like old cathedrals, we try to find impactful ways to create volume in our designs. Adding in can help lift people up and encourage naturally kind and productive interactions.
The use of color can be debated in the design realm, but sticking to neutral walls allows people to make the space their own through furniture, artwork, and even wardrobes. In this sense, architecture becomes like a canvas for expressing corporate culture. Neutral colors are also calming, but overly bright colors like red can increase stimulation. You run the risk of creating a sterile environment. Incorporating wood tones and interior plants is a great way to maintain warmth even against a neutral background.
Workstyles and intergenerational dynamics: comfort is everything
A well-designed workplace helps people of all types feel comfortable and productive. Interestingly, each generation seems to be drawn to different ways of working. The next generation seems to want the exact opposite of the oldest generation, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of figuring out exactly what that is. need to do it. How can we make the next generation feel comfortable in the space? How do we minimize discomfort through design? Some people naturally seek open tables in communal cafés, while others prefer closed, private meeting rooms. The role of the architect is to bring diversity to all work styles and find spaces where people can live comfortably.
In Boccus Payne’s former office, each desk was separated by a tall panel, creating an almost claustrophobic atmosphere. The new office balances separation with a completely open environment, with low-height panels that make it easier to interact and stay connected while allowing personal items, calendars and notes to be pinned down. doing. The new office environment encourages people to communicate and greet each other.
The last few years have made it clear why we go to the office. To interact and collaborate with colleagues, clients and mentors. As architects and designers, our job is to create environments that foster meaningful interactions and support the well-being and mental health of our employees. Through simple yet effective strategies such as attention to light, volume and color, we can build a healthier, happier and stronger workforce.