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Wellbeing at work articles

Workplace & Wellbeing

Billions of pounds and millions of days are lost to workplace absences every year, the overwhelming majority of which are due to work-related ill-health. What role could participatory design play in the wellbeing of knowledge workers?

Research focus

  • Topic 1: A Wellbeing Deficit
  • Topic 2: Participatory Design Projects
  • Topic 3: A Sense of Control
  • Topic 4: Measuring Wellbeing
  • Topic 5: Workplace Wellbeing Model


Statistics gathered by the Confederation of British Industry and the Health and Safety Executive paint an alarming picture of a workplace ‘wellbeing deficit’ which costs the UK economy more than £14 billion each year. This has led to unprecedented interest in the real cost of actively disengaged employees and in ways to improve workplace wellbeing, satisfaction and engagement.

Researchers from Gensler and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art has led to the development of a Workplace Wellbeing model, which can be used to assess the functional and psychological needs of the individual and the organisation. The model is in its second year of research, and results so far suggest that it has profound implications for the way companies approach workplace design change.

Kinnarps trend report

We are on the brink of a great design shift, a shift driven by the digital revolution that steadily permeates our lives. But what does this mean for the modern workplace?

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Designing for Diversity
  • Topic 2: Office Biology
  • Topic 3: Techiture
  • Topic 4: Co Creation in the Mass Collaboration Era
  • Topic 5: Micro-Multinationals


The report introduces a series of trends, which the authors believe will affect the future of workplace design. They refer to the current era as the ‘Diverse Decade’, because the overarching theme is the increasing diversity of the workforce, not just in terms of gender and age, but in terms of working styles, forms of employment and mind-sets. The report introduces five key trends that are fuelling this diversity, examines the impact they will have on working life and suggests ways that designers can provide for them in their workplace design strategies.

The report is based on discussions with a number of key opinion-formers, drawn from (among others) the international design community, ergonomists, change management consultancies and corporate organisations with a progressive approach to their own working environments. These included designer Stefan Brodbeck, who designed our Embrace Chair, Wayne Hemingway (founder of Hemingway Design and Red or Dead) and Nicklas Lundblad who is Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for Google. (NB. A full list is included in the report).

You can download the full report below, or alternatively you can search for individual Trend Report articles using the Trends tag.

Kinnarps colour studio

Christina Wiklund, Kinnarps Colour, Material & Finish Manager, takes a look at colour and the reasoning behind its use in Kinnarps' furniture. Keep an eye out for our update in March 2016.

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Colour theory
  • Topic 2: Design classics
  • Topic 3: Hot metal
  • Topic 4: Blythe spirit
  • Topic 5: Hello sunshine
  • Topic 6: Tailored to fit
  • Topic 7: The Big blue


Christina Wiklund is Kinnarps’s very own cool hunter. As Colour, Material, Finish (CMF) Manager, part of her remit is to sniff out the rising trends in workplace interior design. If it’s hot, Christina will know about it and will feed it into the mix that inspires Kinnarps’s Colour Studio - the suite of fabrics and finishes that allows our furniture to be tailored to each client’s interior vision.

This paper frames some of the thinking behind the colours used in Kinnarps products - to inspire and show how these might have an influence on feelings towards your workplace and its design and furnishings.

Sit-Stand: the medical evidence

What are the wellbeing benefits of sit-stand working? This report gathers medical research and expert statements to give you the answers.

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Physical health benefits
  • Topic 2: Mental health benefits


A growing number of medical experts are citing the reasons why we should consider sit-stand - height adjustable - working as the “healthy option” at work. We have collated a few of their key statements and research articles for you to refer to.

You will soon see that the health benefits of sit stand working are not just physical, such as avoiding back pain and circulatory issues. Sit stand working can also help to improve your mental health and productivity. It can improve alertness and cognitive function, as well as lessening the risk of suffering from depression. The key is in variety of posture.

Beyond time & motion: work environments for the 21st century

How can we create workplaces that support the productivity, effectiveness and wellbeing of our most expensive resource – the workforce?

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Welcoming workplace
  • Topic 2: Technology
  • Topic 3: Back to the three Cs


The faster we accelerate into the digitally-driven knowledge economy, the harder it becomes to make the right decisions about what is best for the workforce in terms of designing the office environment. A standard efficiency-driven approach, based on the factory floor template of the industrial age, is now obsolete in the information age. But what do we replace it with?

In 2009, Jeremy Myerson conducted a large international study on the workplace design needs and expectations of knowledge workers. The two-year, publicly funded study was called ‘Welcoming Workplace’. His subsequent book later resulted in an agile working model we brought to life – the 3Cs.

But five years after the Welcoming Workplace report first signalled the significance of spaces to concentrate, collaborate and contemplate, does the three Cs model still hold true?

Welcome to work

How the design of Kinnarps' Clerkenwell showroom brings to life the agile working concept described by Prof Jeremy Myerson in his book: "New Demographics, New Workspace".

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Knowledge working and the demographic shift
  • Topic 2: Behaviour driving change
  • Topic 3: Collaboration
  • Topic 4: Concentration
  • Topic 5: Contemplation


At Kinnarps, we believe in making life better at work. We see the workplace as a social landscape where people come together in an inclusive and sustainable space for the benefit of all. Our mission is to help create environments that promote well–being, inspire creativity, develop potential and fulfil ambition. We care about well–being and work–life balance as much as clever use of space and productivity, because people are at the centre of all we do.

This collection of deeper research-based articles describes how we set about planning our new London space in Turnmill Street. Looking at the shifting world of work combined with research into demographic shifts and knowledge based work, we wanted to bring agile working to life in a 'working showroom'.

Building on our years of research with Prof Jeremy Myerson - and in particular his New Demographics, New Workspace book - we created an environment based on the 3Cs model, with settings for Collaboration, Concentration and Contemplation.

Strangers in the office: workplace design for uncertainty

Employees may have the opportunity to work in different ways and hence different settings in which they thrive - but is contemporary workplace design suitably accommodating this?

Research focus

  • Topic 1: Work and uncertainty
  • Topic 2: Rules and procedures
  • Topic 3: Technology
  • Topic 4: Design
  • Topic 5: Acoustics, thermal, colour and lighting
  • Topic 6: Social features of the workplace
  • Topic 7: Managing and measuring change


“Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers…Only if he recognizes the human situation, the dichotomies inherent in his existence and his capacity to unfold his powers, will he be able to succeed in his task: to be himself and for himself and to achieve happiness by the full realization of those faculties which are peculiarly his – of reason, love, and productive work.” (Erich Fromm, 1947. An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics.)

The future is uncertain; were it not, the human species would differ fundamentally from that which exists. Human behaviour shapes and is shaped by uncertainty; by possibility and probability, hope, fear, trial-and-error, and by experiment and experience, amongst other things. We may choose to act on the basis of a planned outcome, only to encounter an unexpected one, in consequence amending our plans for future action.

This paper proposes that contemporary workplace design is often ill-equipped to accommodate uncertainty, representing reductionist and utilitarian concepts of what constitutes “work,” and what workers can and should do.