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Office wellness room in London with soft seating and biophilic elements such as planting and natural light
  • 5 Considerations for Designing Workplace Wellness Rooms

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Patrick Isitt
Content Manager
Content specialist in office design and build.
  • Wellness is vital in modern offices. It goes without saying that people want to feel better at work. But it’s also beneficial to employers. For example, 56% of employees participating in wellness programs report fewer sick days, while 60% said they’re more productive.

    Today’s evolving office environment provides more scope to make this happen. We’ve already seen a clear shift to hybrid working, supporting a better work-life balance. Wellness spaces could be next on the agenda. According to Steelcase, 91% of workers want casual spaces to re-energise at work – but more than half (51%) have no such space at their workplace.

    So, what does a wellness space look like? And how do you cater for everyone? For most companies, they take the form of wellness rooms. These are dedicated parts of the office which are specifically designed for switching off from work.

    In this article, we’ll look at the key considerations when designing inclusive wellness rooms and spaces for diverse employee needs.

  • What is a wellness room?

    Also known as wellbeing rooms, wellness rooms are dedicated spaces within an office building where employees can switch off. They provide a break from the busy office environment – but not in the same way as communal breakout areas.

    Wellness spaces are all about privacy – both physically and virtually. This includes maintaining a tech-free focus, giving employees the opportunity to truly switch off and recharge.

    Why? In short, it’s needed. A third of workers report concerns about their emotional wellbeing, while around half say they feel stressed either always or often at work. Modern offices are filled with tech, which – while helpful for productivity – can make it difficult to relax. There are lots of studies to back this up.

    Wellness rooms have been found to reduce occupational stress levels, going hand in hand with the reduction of stress reported by 78% of hybrid workers. It’s no surprise that hybrid working is on the up – with 1 in 4 workers on a hybrid model and 40% of UK employers facilitating this option. But as we mentioned earlier, the same can’t be said for wellness rooms, which are a feature in less than half of offices.

  • What to consider when designing a wellness room in the workplace

    Wellness rooms aren’t just a space away from the usual office environment. There are lots of different factors to consider when designing a good wellness space – from sensory conditions and ergonomics to inclusivity and natural elements.

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  • Sensory conditions

    Sensory conditions are number one on the list for any workplace wellness room. We’re talking about light, sound and colours.

    To start with, wellness rooms should be well soundproofed to promote privacy. You may also want to consider white noise machines, which have been shown to promote relaxation and quiet the mind.

    Additionally, it’s important that lighting can be controlled. That includes dimmable light switches to increase or decrease levels to suit users’ preferences, along with blackout blinds for complete control over natural light.

    Colours are another great tool for wellness. Muted colours and pastel shades create a softer environment, with a few popular colour groups for promoting calmness:

    Coloured lighting is a good way to combine the two options. As well as being able to adjust light levels, having different lighting colours can create a more detached and relaxing environment where staff can feel separated from their usual workspace.

    These factors are especially important for neurodiverse employees. More than 15% of people in the UK are neurodivergent – that’s roughly one in seven. This includes autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and other conditions. Adjustable lighting controls and soundproofing can help prevent sensory overload for neurodiverse people.

  • Ergonomics and comfort

    ‘Wellness’ often makes people think of mental wellbeing and reducing stress. However, comfort is also vitally important – not least because of the link between physical and mental health.

    This is why ergonomics is crucial for workplace wellness. Ergonomic furniture has been designed specifically for comfort and efficiency while working. This includes:

    • Seating that supports your back, neck and shoulders.
    • Seats should also be adjustable to suit different heights.
    • Height-adjustable desks or different desk options.
    • Standing desks are also a rising trend for workplace wellness, which have been found to boost productivity.

    Above all else, ergonomic furniture should support different body types and needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to comfort.

    We’ve discussed some of the most common ergonomic furniture considerations in a conventional office. However, wellness spaces aren’t limited to desks and office chairs.

    These principles can also be applied to armchairs, sofas and even reclining chairs which are both comfortable and supportive. This allows workers to switch off and relax without slumping and negatively impacting their posture.

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  • Biophilic elements

    Incorporating plants has clear benefits for air quality, including reducing dust levels and keeping humidity within an optimal range. But it’s not just about physical health. Going a step further, humans have an instinctive need to connect with nature. This is known as biophilia, roughly translated from Greek as love (philia) of life (bio).

    Biophilia has a range of positive impacts in the workplace. According to a Human Spaces Report, workers in offices with natural elements are 6% more productive. As for wellness, the report also details a 15% improvement in wellbeing for those workers.

    Greenery is the most obvious addition to offices, given that 58% have no plants whatsoever. However, natural light is another important consideration, wherever possible. It’s been found to increase happiness and improve the mood of office workers.

    Given the clear wellbeing benefits of biophilic design in the office, the likes of greenery and natural light are obvious choices for any space that is dedicated to wellness.

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  • Placement within the office

    While most wellness room ideas focus on what’s inside the space, it’s also important to consider how it fits into your office as a whole. Wellness rooms that are central within an office can be problematic, as people may pass through the space or be tempted to use it for regular breaks.

    Don’t forget about the stigma attached to mental health – 56% of people experiencing mental health issues feel ashamed, according to Mind. Because of this, people may prefer having a wellness space in the corner of your office, preferably out of sight. That allows them to use it with privacy.

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  • Inclusivity in design

    Most important of all is that your office’s wellbeing room is tailored to the needs of your employees. Design is not inclusive unless the design process is inclusive – this highlights the importance of involving employees in the process from the very start.

    Additionally, your wellness room should feed into the culture of the business. Don’t just ask employees what they would like to see in a wellbeing room. One wellness room doesn’t make up for a culture where employees are unhappy. If you really want to make a difference, ask what changes can be made to the office and workplace environment as a whole.

    For example, here are the top causes of work-related stress from a Perkbox survey:

    • Office politics
    • Lack of communication
    • Performance of other team members
    • Personal performance
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Tension with managers
    • Long working hours
  • Wellness spaces

    Throughout this article, we’ve focused on the idea of a wellness room within your office. However, not all offices have enough space for a dedicated wellbeing room. Don’t worry – you can still work wellness into office design.

    The most important thing is providing detachment from working areas. If you have limited space, acoustic or privacy screens can create a separate area for wellness and relaxation.

    Booths are another option to let employees unwind in privacy without requiring too much space. Or you can try to create zones within the office using lighting and colour, alongside screens, to provide distinct spaces for wellness without necessarily segregating them from the rest of the office.

    It’s also worth noting that many of the wellness ideas we’ve discussed can be implemented throughout your office space, as well as in a wellbeing space specifically. That includes adjustable lighting, ergonomic furniture and biophilic elements.

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  • It’s clear that workplace wellbeing is worthwhile for both employees and employers – and a dedicated wellness space can be an integral part of a healthy workplace culture. If you want to incorporate a wellness room at work, consider its placement first and foremost, along with sensory conditions, ergonomics and how to create a nature-infused, tech-free environment.

    But more than anything, it’s about inclusivity. Involving staff in the design process for your wellness areas – and wellness strategy more broadly – is the best way to achieve meaningful results for your team and your business.


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