Workspace Design Show

26 – 27 February 2025 | Business Design Centre, London

Speakers Q&A: What measures should designers and employers be taking to promote employee wellbeing?

Steve Brewer, Founding Partner at Burtt-Jones & Brewer

Using words like ‘inclusivity’ or ‘diversity’ is fine.  Everyone has a right to be able to choose how, what and where they work from, especially once in the workplace. Designing in ‘wellness’ rooms, referring to planting as ‘biophilic’ design is a also positive. Labelling a room as the ‘wellbeing’ room, separate from the main workspace certainly has merit but is not the panacea. The key to getting this right, from my perspective, is to answer the human, experiential, questions first. If you do build a wellbeing room, what goes into it, where is it located, is it discrete and quiet, how easy is to access, has it got a view, when can it be used, who has control of booking it, how do you know if it’s being used? 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast as the saying goes. Get the workplace culture right and the strategy will follow, or community as I prefer to call it.

Wellbeing is holistic. All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle need to be mapped out first, to create the company’s unique vision/picture and establish a place for wellbeing within the culture. This isn’t just about the workplace, it’s about before and after people arrive at the office and for those working remotely. Wellbeing isn’t just a well appointed room in the basement.

Tina Norden, Partner at Conran & Partners

Wellbeing has thankfully become a key word outside the spa and it is understood how important it is for productivity and positivity of the team. It encompasses all elements of life and all senses, so there is much that a workplace can do to improve the wellness of their team.

Lighting is absolutely key and can even work different at different times of the day and to circadian rhythms.

Ergonomics are often underrated, in particular in younger teams, but a good chair, a good set up for the computer all mean a happy body into the future.

And most importantly creating an environment that is conducive to team work, collaboration and flexibility in set ups to foster a social and collaborative atmosphere.

Lewis Barker, Director, Workplace Services EMEA at ServiceNow

Manager training to educate of wellness practices and providing company wide wellness initiatives. Have a baseline of wellness activities that employees can tap into, could be virtual or remote. Design spaces that are biophilic and have good air circulation and systems.

Michael Dowds, Head of Workplace Design Standards at Department for Work and Pensions

The WELL Building Standard is a good starting point. WELL Certification puts physical and mental health first by considering a wide number or factors including air quality, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. It can be expensive to fully implement, but much of the guidance can be incorporated in designs fairly simply just by being aware of what is possible and the kinds of things that really make a difference.

Naomi Sakomoto, Senior Associate, Gensler

Workplaces should support the complete hierarchy of physical and emotional wellbeing. Meeting the needs of a neurodiverse workforce with a range of abilities should be the baseline. The second tier of wellbeing encompasses spaces that support us as whole human beings. This includes designing for all activities that individuals may need throughout their day; places for human connection, collaboration, and movement; and places that connect us to nature and daylight. Finally, at the top are spaces that enable us to thrive, connecting us to each other, to the world, and to our sense of purpose; places that support learning and growth; and that inspire and delight us. Workplaces that deliver the top tier of wellbeing will attract and retain the best talent and empower employees to be their best selves.