How Your Workspace Affects Your Mental Health and Productivity

No matter how much you enjoy your job, the workplace is entirely intended to elicit the maximum productivity from its employees. Managers and supervisors should, of course, genuinely care about the wellbeing of their staff, but for the majority of companies, the priority is to operate a thriving business. Intelligent entrepreneurs will know that the former often gives rise to the latter.

The environment you work in has a significant impact on this. Decor choices have the power to inspire. Furnishings can be organized to encourage collaboration. Even lighting can affect employees’ state of mind. However, it is equally true that the workplace can cause stress, and an oppressive atmosphere can hamper productivity.

It is in the best interests of us all to take a look at how elements of the workplace can affect us, both positively and negatively. We should examine how our mental health is served by the environments in which we spend a significant portion of our lives. By seeking to understand our offices a little better, we can make choices that affect both our individual happiness and overall productivity.

Design Choices

The stereotypical office is populated by sterile, dull design choices. It’s uninspiring, impersonal, and those common open-plan layouts put additional pressure on workers by giving the impression that their boss is always watching. A 2013 study by the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that this kind of impersonal design with a perceived lack of privacy can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout.

One approach that can be effective is the adoption of resimercial workspaces. By blending a more comfortable and flexible atmosphere with elements of a professional office environment, companies can help provide positive and stimulating surroundings. That said, it’s certainly a challenging undertaking, requiring careful thought to obtain the correct balance. Yes, the furniture needs to be comfortable, but this should be offset by arranging a layout that encourages productivity too.

Color is also an important consideration when transforming the workplace. Psychologists have long maintained that color has the ability to affect mood, and inspire certain behaviors. Blue is often associated with intellect and ideas. When painting walls, or choosing furniture, business owners should be aware of the response they wish to elicit, and how color can be used in certain spaces.


Completing required tasks effectively is so much easier when our minds are free to focus on the problem at hand. A disorganized office environment not only serves as an unnecessary distraction but can also negatively affect mood and morale. This is why many large companies dedicate a proportion of their budget to optimizing workspaces; they understand just how impactful organization can be to productivity and employee satisfaction.

improve productivity

Management should seek to gain employee input into how office organization can be improved. After all, they have daily insight into what aspects of their job can be improved by adopting streamlined measures or even eliminating unnecessary product and paperwork. Many companies are also making efforts to become entirely paperless; swapping unsightly, chaotic physical files for cloud storage and sharing.

Research has shown that younger, smaller companies have been more receptive to overhauling organizational features of their companies. When approaching management to make changes, employees or older, larger companies can benefit from preparing research about what methods of improved organization have produced positive results in their industry. It can also be useful to accept responsibility for the changes, offering to put in the additional work to ensure the best chance of success.

Remote Work

It is not always practical for companies to make changes to the work environment in a way that suits individual employees. While it’s advisable to make practical adaptations in a way that affects the majority of staff, there are options to account for personal preferences. With this in mind, it is now more feasible than ever before to offer employees the opportunity to work from home.

This needn’t be a full-time solution, but adopting remote working a couple of days a week can provide some variety to the work schedule. This also allows workers to create their own office environment, leaning into the surroundings and atmosphere they find most beneficial to their individual mental health and productivity. This has also been known to improve employee satisfaction, leading to a lower rate of staff turnover.

working from home

Widespread accessibility to advanced technology over the last couple of decades has helped to ensure that remote working is feasible for both staff members and the companies they work for. Cloud storage has made the organization and sharing of files across vast distances both practical. There has also been a rise in tools designed to encourage virtual collaboration. From project management platforms that can be updated in real-time to video conferencing applications making meetings possible no matter the physical location of attendees.

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a greater emphasis on employee welfare. With good reason; mentally healthy, happy employees have a huge impact on overall productivity. Ensuring the workplace is optimized to reduce stress is a vital tool in reducing turnover and improving workflow. By consulting with employees on organizational changes, intelligently investing in decor, and adopting remote working, companies can make a significant difference to their success trajectory.

This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.