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In the past few years Grigoriou Interiors has been part of a concerted effort amongst sustainability professionals to present and define ways in which we, as designers, can inform our decisions in the office environment. How do we go about quantifying and presenting a business case for promoting wellbeing of occupants in office environments? What aspects of design should we be aware of? How do they affect our productivity and happiness at work? These questions have long posed a challenge in our field of design consultancy.

Research written by Elina and a collaborative professional group from around the world for the World Green Building Council was published in the report ‘Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices – The next chapter for green building’ in October 2014. Elina was asked by the WGBC to look deeper and summarise the findings in three new research notes. These compile a comprehensive review of studies spanning the past 40 years, investigating some of the less quantitative impacts of design on workers’ wellbeing within the office environment. They put forward the best and latest information on the building design features that are known to have positive impacts on the health, wellbeing and productivity of office building occupants, pointing to measurable implications where possible.

The notes have been used as formative research for the WGBC guidance document, and more personally, they have helped inform our own ‘Wellbeing Reviews’ service now on offer to clients.

Although these documents confess that there is a way to go before the arguments can be fully put to rest, we hope that the information will help more designers reach and present an informed design approach and assist clients with knowing what to use as a benchmark.

Here is a quick summary of each research note, with links to the documents in full.

Research note: Design Look and Feel

Shapes, textures and colours used in workplaces affect the comfort levels of occupants within the space and will influence the way staff and visitors react to the impulses provided. This research note presents supported information for designers and their clients on how to approach the colours, shapes and interaction of objects within office spaces to benefit users, whilst considering the social and task-based requirements of that space.

Research note: Active Design

This document outlines the argument for designers to consider design that encourages office workers to increase their physical activity within the office space. Increased physical activity contributes to combat obesity, weight problems and diabetes, but also encourages workers to take active pauses. Moving around and interacting with colleagues or neighbours, workers are more likely to interact and foster relationships with each other, exchange ideas, help solve problems and promote innovation and creativity.

Research note: Biophilia and Views Out

The need for a link with nature has been a long-recognised issue within internal and external urban spaces. This research note summarises past and present studies to reiterate its importance in productivity and overall happiness of office workers. It also addresses the question of ‘real’ vs ‘re-produced’, to help designers mimic nature and foster better connections with ‘in’ vs ‘out’.