The impact of office design on employee health & productivity

Table of Contents

We spend most of our life-time working. Whether you’re a marketer and writing blogs (this one for example), a sales executive and always looking for new opportunities or a hardcore developer: the office is our second home. And more often it is our first home. As we spend more time at the office sometimes then we do at home. The average person works more than 90.000 hours in their lifetime, so having a safe, friendly, comfortable workplace to conduct business is extremely important. As we spend most of our time in the office, the office design has a huge impact on the health and happiness of employees. 

Office design can have a significant impact on the happiness and vitality of workers. Studies have shown that a well-designed office can improve employee productivity, creativity, and overall well-being.

Health and vitality in their turn affect the productivity of employees. So in short: a well thought office design means happy people. And happy people means productive people. So everybody is happy.

Earlier, we emphasized the benefits of creating a safe and healthy working environment. This is backed by a lot of research, showing that a safe and healthy working environment significantly increases happiness and productiveness. In this article, we will dive deeper into the office design options, and the influence of office design on the well-being of the employees.  


A staggering 87% of the employees would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits according to the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report

Healthy employees =
Happy employees =
Productive employees

The office design is an important factor that influences the productivity and happiness of employees. By achieving a healthy and friendly workplace design and structure, you can actually increase productivity, creativity and happiness at work. Positive and well-thought office designs can lead to 33% happier employees, decrease employee turnover by 58%, increase revenue by 33% and productivity with 12%, according to scientific research.  

Let there be light

Natural light is one of the most important factors of office design that affects worker happiness. Workers who have access to natural light tend to be more productive, less stressed, and take fewer sick days. Employers can provide natural light by installing large windows, skylights, or light tubes. 

Sometimes there are spots in the office that are limited with natural sunlight. Try rotating everyone once in a while, in order for everyone to receive their amount of vitamin D*.

‍Proper light is actually beneficial for your sleep. Neuroscientists say that workers who work in offices with windows receive 173% more exposure to natural light during office hours and enjoy an average extra of 46 minutes sleep every night. Poor lighting however, can cause numerous negative side effects such as headaches, eye problems and increased stress levels which could hamper on employee performance.

Let there be air

Air. We all need it. We need it to be alive, creative and productive. Having access to clean and fresh air promotes employee health. 

Office design should be made to promote employee adequate ventilation and access to fresh air. Poor ventilation and elevated levels of carbon dioxide and air irritants impede on one’s attention span and ability to focus and can even lead to headaches. In a study done by researchers at the Center for Health and Global Environment at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University, it was found that poor quality of air in the workplace was directly associated with a decline in productivity.

Office design and layout

In addition to natural light, office design and workplace layout optimization can also impact worker health by promoting movement and activity. Sit-stand desks, treadmill desks, and other active workstations can help workers stay active and reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Encouraging taking the stairs is also a good option. Taking the stairs can help burn excess calories which promotes heart health and also prevents chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases which contribute to employee absenteeism and presenteeism. Many offices, traditionally, have lifts positioned centrally, where it is easily accessible and used. However, to incorporate the culture of taking stairs among employees, the staircase could be moved into a more central position. By upgrading the stairs with greenery, lighting, music and other aesthetic components, people are encouraged to take the stairs.

Ergonomics also play a crucial role in office design. Employers can provide a healthy working environment by investing in ergonomic office furniture such as adjustable chairs, keyboard trays, and monitor stands. This can help to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries and improve overall comfort.

Finally, office design can also impact worker happiness by promoting social interaction and collaboration. Employers can create a more social and collaborative environment by incorporating shared spaces, break rooms, and other areas where employees can gather and interact. We noticed this firsthand for one of our clients, Emce. They mentioned that after installing our water dispenser in their office, they noticed a big change. People gathered around the water dispenser to have a small chat or sparring session. 


Another important aspect of office design is the use of plants and greenery. Research has shown that the presence of plants in an office can improve air quality, reduce stress, and increase overall well-being. Employers can incorporate plants into their office design by adding potted plants, green walls, or even a small indoor garden.

Sometimes, taking care of the plants can even help employees in getting more relaxed. Research show that people who like to take care of the plants are actually more productive after their 10 minute of gardening. 

*Not getting enough natural sunlight and hence not enough vitamin D? Try our Fresh Lemon (IMMUNITY) or Red Fruits (FOCUS) vitamin flavors. Both provide a healthy amount of vitamin D to boost your health. Here, you can read more about our vitamin waters. 

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