The Impact Your Office Design Has On Mental Health

It's 2021, and for the most part, we've returned to the office. It’s a constant struggle to keep your head above water with our newfound ‘always-on’ culture (thanks to our connected, smartphone-addicted ways).

Stress levels are through the roof, and the incidence of work-related mental illness is a real and pressing concern.

But if times have changed—what about your office? Has it been designed to bring out the best in your employees? Does your fit out and corporate structure set out to support the mental health and wellbeing of your staff?

If it doesn’t, it might be time for an overhaul.

The physical characteristics of your office carry a lot of weight when you look at the psychosocial outcomes. Studies have shown your occupational design and layout is the key to cultivating a positive and productive place to work.[1]

That’s because environmental satisfaction is a straight and narrow to employee retention, productivity and lower absence. Hence why your office fit out could prove a lucrative investment in the long run.

Here’s what you can do as a business owner to tackle the challenges faced by a burnt out modern workforce.

Create a work-life balance

“...a home away from home where your employees are free to work flexibly and creatively.”

Manageable workloads are the real no-brainer when it comes to preventing employee burn-out. But there are ways you can help restore the balance of work and life through your office fit out.

For instance, if overtime is an unavoidable reality for your business, try purging your office of any stale corporate attributes. Think a home away from home where your employees are free to work flexibly and creatively. Engaging breakout spaces, amenities, informal meeting areas and ergonomic furniture are all things that make the working experience all the more positive.

Encourage growth and development

“...consider an organisational commitment to those loyal staffers who’ve invested so much in your business.”

Every business owner wants their employees to grow just as much as they do. Which is why it’s important to ensure you afford them every opportunity to do so.

There are certain measures you can take to support the growth and development of your employees. Equipping your employees with the right workstations and technology to thrive is a great place to start.

But you should also consider an organisational commitment to those loyal staffers who’ve invested so much in your business. It might be worth implementing a reward system of some kind. Ask yourself whether your employees feel comfortable voicing their stress-related concerns with their manager. It’s essential for any business to have adequate systems in place.

Inspire, motivate and recognise

“Hard workers will feel much more satisfied knowing their contributions are valued.”

An upset work-life balance isn’t any way to foster a sense of motivation among your employees. Research tells us that employee mental health is influenced by the level of engagement in your office. But is your office designed to support collaboration and brainstorming? The ultimate workspace will have modular desks and workstations, benches and stools, tiered seating and impromptu meeting or brainstorming areas.

Encouragement and recognition is another key factor in employee motivation and mental health. Hard workers will feel much more satisfied knowing their contributions are valued. When fitting out a new office, you should include motivational or values-based walls and graphic displays, as well as memorabilia for a daily boost in morale and an overarching sense of workplace pride.

Keep things fresh and relaxed

“Your plans should include large open windows in areas that draw in enough sunlight during office hours.”

The therapeutic benefits of office plants and plenty of natural light are unmistakable. Conventional office culture has levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, raising through the roof. It’s no wonder anxiety and depression rates are on the rise.

Your plans should include large open windows in areas that draw in enough sunlight during office hours. Air quality can be improved with living green walls, custom built-in pots and shelving to display your office plants.

Employ the right scheme

“’s important to choose wisely for a health-enabling space.”

Colour psychology is a powerful thing. Especially when your designing and fitting out a space where your employees will likely spend the majority of their day. Certain sensory experiences (like colours and textures) will have a profound impact on things like mood, energy levels and cognitive function. So it’s important to choose a therapeutic landscape for a health-enabling workspace.

Research suggests the colour blue to be among the more favourable choices. It was also associated with a greater sense of wellbeing.[2] But keep in mind that certain aspects of your office will need to spark different feelings, activity and meaning—depending on the type of employee and work involved.

Save yourself the stress of planning, designing, obtaining licencing and hiring contractors for your upcoming office project. Fast Fitouts is your one-stop-shop for all your workspace interior needs. Call 1300 303 831 or submit an online enquiry below for a free concept design and pricing service.


  1. Herbig, B., Schneider, A. and Nowak, D., 2016. Does office space occupation matter? The role of the number of persons per enclosed office space, psychosocial work characteristics, and environmental satisfaction in the physical and mental health of employees. Indoor air, 26(5), pp. 755-767.2. Foley, R. and Kistemann, T., 2015.
  2. Blue space geographies: Enabling health in place. Health & place, 35, pp.157-165.

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