How to design your workspace for happiness!

How to design your workspace for happiness!

Later today I'll be presenting a keynote at a conference on the lessons designers and architects can take from positive psychology about designing for happiness and positive emotion! 

Some of what I'll be saying is nicely summarised in this great Fast Company article and I invite you all to give some serious thought to how your current workplace context might be influencing your mood (positively and negatively) … 

by Beatriz Arantes 

We’ve been trained to think that emotions and work do not mix. They’re something to manage, to control, and to check at the door.

But research is now showing that emotions can have an effect on employee and company success. Emotions are, after all, a vital part of who we are and what we bring to the workplace.

If we’re happy, relaxed, and focused, we’re more willing to be flexible, collaborative, and look forward to new challenges. We can overcome negative feelings that can get in the way of productive work. When we’re feeling depressed, unappreciated, or stressed, however, the quality of our work and how we interact with others can suffer.

Organizations have long looked at the physical well-being of employees: They’ve spent money on physical wellness programs, given gym discounts, and encouraged trends like walking meetings. And this focus on physical wellness makes sense: worldwide, rates of heart and lung disease, diabetes, and obesity are rising sharply, and stress has become a $300 billion global epidemic. The financial impact is clear to an employer.

But still, many haven’t considered taking a more holistic view of well-being–one that includes our emotional well-being–and how this affects a company’s overall performance.

Steelcase just completed a two year study of well-being in the workplace in which it found that, to foster a workforce of employees who are productive, collaborative, and creative, organizations need to consider much more than just the physical health of their employees. Rather, they need to take a holistic approach to well-being, understanding the emotional and cognitive, as well as physical needs of employees.

The combined emotional and physical toll of disengaged workers can lead to unproductive, and frankly, from a health perspective, expensive employees. It’s when people are in environments that promote positive emotions that they’re able to do their best work.

Companies can have a profound impact on shaping emotions–for better or worse–simply through the design of their office. When the physical environment impacts how an employee feels–and therefore, performs at work–workspace design becomes a lot more imperative to the bottom line.

So how can organizations create environments that support positive emotions and help build productive, collaborative, and creative workers? Here are three ways:


Feeling connected to others fulfills a basic need for belonging. Feeling useful to others is a powerful way to generate positive emotions, and relationships anchor people’s commitment to an organization, its brand, and its purpose.

Having close friends and positive interactions at work significantly increases engagement. In today’s increasingly mobile world, alternative and mobile work strategies must be intentionally crafted so that employees don’t lose their sense of belonging to an organization and still have meaningful connections to others–no matter where they are based.

Incorporate the following specific elements into a workspace to profoundly impact an optimistic sense of belonging:

  • Create welcoming entrances with visible hosting for people who don’t work there daily

  • Offer video-conferencing configurations that allow remote participants to easily see content and hear participants

  • Provide ample and well-equipped spaces for all workers to work individually or in teams

  • Design informal areas for socialization, both in person and virtually

…keep reading the full & original article HERE