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Workplace & Wellbeing

What aspects of workplace design are most important to people’s wellbeing?

There is no doubt that the UK’s office-based, knowledge industry is facing a crisis in the form of a ‘wellbeing deficit’. The Confederation of British Industry and Health and Safety Executive report record levels of absenteeism, with 23.3 million working days each year lost to work-related ill-health such as depression, stress, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders.


A great deal is already known about the causes of employee stress and demotivation. Published research points to a significant correlation between an individual’s personal resources (who they are and what they can do) and the demands of their employer (what the organisation needs employees to do and how it expects them to do it), and suggests that a sense of ‘personal control’ can have a hugely positive impact on employee wellbeing.

However, more work needs to be done to establish how organisations can engage, motivate and nurture their workforces as part of creating productive working environments which allows them to continue to meet their corporate goals.

Royal College of Art

Kinnarps is part of a consortium of workplace experts and academics involved in an ongoing research project. Co-directed by the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and global design and architecture expert Gensler, it aims to answer two key questions:

  1. What aspects of workplace design are most important to boosting people’s wellbeing?
  2. Does employee participation in the collaborative design processes that shape new workplaces give that sense of personal control that can help raise morale and productivity?
Design director

After the initial year’s study, the research strongly indicates that engaging the workforce in the design of their workspace is crucial to their wellbeing, but that the optimum level of involvement might not be as taxing as employers might fear.

The study also led to the development of a workplace wellbeing conceptual model, which can be used to assess the functional and psychological needs of the individual and the organisation. The conceptual model will be developed further in year two, but results so far suggest that it has profound implications for the way companies approach workplace design change.

You can find out more about the Workplace & Wellbeing research project in the full year one report, as well as where the study will focus next.

Download the report
Professor Myerson video

These year one study results were recently presented by Professor Myerson at the 'Welcome To Work' event hosted by Kinnarps. Click on the link to watch the presentation.

Watch the Video

Kinnarps offers a range of bespoke engagement and piloting tools that can help you to nurture your own workforce, cost-effectively.

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