5 design strategies to improve mental health in shared workspaces
Burnout syndrome is a professional phenomenon resulting from chronic stress at work and emotional tensions and affects more and more professionals every day. It is directly associated with the daily professional life of everyone, not only with the operational aspects of the work but also with the physical environment.
We spend an average of 1/3 of our day in workspaces, so it’s no wonder they dramatically affect our mental health. After a period of intense home office activity during the year 2020, people are now returning to collaborative workplaces. These spaces offer a great alternative to escape the domestic environment and create separate places for each function of our lives, a much needed change after a year of isolation.
The coworking business started around 2005 and has grown into a global trend. Since then, every professional has wanted a colorful, versatile and dynamic workplace. However, it has become clear that a cool and trendy piece is not enough to ensure a healthy working environment, both physically and mentally. Neuroarchitecture has demonstrated how environments can influence human behavior by studying the interactions between our brain and architecture, which can alter our emotional state, providing a sense of calm, tranquility, increasing productivity and focus, or all. contrary.
Therefore, we have selected a few design strategies that are essential to ensure the well-being of the user in shared workspaces.
Any coworking business that doesn’t have individual standing desks these days is pretty much obsolete. According to British studies, these workstations offer many benefits, not only by improving posture but also by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and even certain types of cancer, such as prostate and ovarian cancer. Experts recommend working at least two hours a day while standing.
Along with the physical benefits, different types of furniture also help make work less monotonous, allowing for different interactions that can often increase user motivation. One of the main concepts of the Polish Nest coworking project was to encourage changing working environments throughout the day by offering not only traditional desks, but also armchairs, bleachers, sofas and high tables. Using colors and textures, Nest offers a wide variety of tables and seating areas that inspire different perceptions of the same space.
Likewise, The Coven, an American coworking space designed especially for women and those who identify as non-binary, showcases a variety of furniture marked by an unexpected use of colors and materials that reflect the individuality of members and staff. guests. The aim of the design was to empower those who inhabit the space and create a sense of community and fairness by creating different spaces for interaction and personalization.
Isolation vs interaction
When it comes to furniture, it is also important to create spaces for interaction as well as spaces of seclusion so that people can choose the best space for each specific moment and activity. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the demand for more isolated workspaces to reduce the risks of contamination. The Arcoworking project, for example, was based on the concept of a dynamic environment that encourages people to meet, but the design also features more secluded spaces. The yellow booths provide space for small meetings or one-on-one activities, while the large concrete counter allows for larger gatherings and events.
Impact Hub Berlin uses the same approach, offering different settings ranging from common tables to âSkype-boxesâ, which are small booths that can be used as individual workstations for immersion or video conferencing. They are made of wood, which brings warmth and comfort to the workplace, keeping in mind that textures, colors and materials are essential for a healthy environment.
However, it should be noted that according to some studies the optimal size for an individual workstation is 4 feet (4 feet), smaller desks may become too confined.
Spending eight hours straight in front of a computer screen is anything but healthy, which is why collaborative workspaces have focused a lot on providing different types of activities to relax and unwind the body and the body. spirit. Many coworking facilities have rooms with music and artwork on the walls or balcony or patio views overlooking the landscape to help users rest their eyes and minds.
Some businesses even include yoga and meditation rooms, as well as relaxation areas for games and other fun activities. A good example is the utopic_US Coworking in Spain. Hammocks, colorful balls and hanging chairs add playfulness to the environment while inspiring users and showing that everything around them can turn into something unexpected.
However, the game does not necessarily require different materials, textures and bright colors, as can be seen in Loona’s office. Even though it appears to be a more sober design, this workspace offers different areas of relaxation, such as the dimly lit green room filled with plants or the room covered with cushions on the floor.
When we talk about mental health, we can’t forget to mention the importance of being in contact with nature, so our fourth topic in this article is biophilia. This strategy is based on the incorporation of elements and aspects of nature into the built environment, such as water, plants, daylight and natural materials such as wood and stone. The use of more organic shapes and silhouettes rather than straight lines is also a key feature of biophilic designs, as is the establishment of visual relationships between light and shadow, for example.
The Second Home Holland Park is a prime example of biophilia in collaborative workspaces. First of all, the floor plan is very unusual for a working environment, with small ambiences that create an organic walk through stations. The 18 trees planted in the workplace and the skylights contribute to a strong link between nature and the routine of the office. As in neuroarchitecture, natural lighting is one of the cornerstones of user well-being, closely linked to feelings of warmth and comfort.
This project is also very special because Richard Rogers set up his very first personal workshop there after winning the Center Pompidou competition. The vineyard that Richard Rogers himself planted in the courtyard is a piece of natural design added to the building’s history, and one that has survived even after renovations.
The latter subject has become a major tool for improving people’s mental well-being, especially in the context of the covid-19 pandemic. It combines the elements already mentioned above, such as the importance of having spaces to relax and interact with the natural elements. Outdoor spaces in coworking spaces can be made through small patios, backyards or gardens, as well as on rooftops. The aim is to provide fresh air and access to the weather outside.
People who work long non-stop hours should take these breaks to improve their mental well-being, and the Pobre Diablo Cultural Factory in Quito, Ecuador provides these opportunities through its outdoor spaces surrounding the office and openings on the roof, which allow plants to grow and sunlight to enter.
Neuroarchitecture is increasingly focusing on outdoor spaces as tools that can directly affect the brain, like charging a cell phone battery. Regardless of the level of greenery, outdoor spaces are very important to take a moment to disconnect and recharge.
These strategies can and should be applied to any work environment, including your own home office. Whatever the scale, the key is to understand the importance of physical space in the mental health of those who use it and how specific strategies can improve people’s quality of life.