Feeling low as the clocks change back? We look at ways your office design can help boost the mood of your teams through the colder months.

Faith Pittock

Project Designer

27th Sep 2018

Let there be lux

Less exposure to sunlight is linked to low moods, reduced energy and the winter blues. When you don’t get the light you need, your body produces more sleepy hormones (melatonin) and less happy hormones (serotonin) than usual. Your natural body clock also uses sunlight to regulate your energy levels; dictating your resting and active hours. When your circadian rhythm is out of whack, you may feel tired, unmotivated and less alert. The good news is that your office can maximise natural light by incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows, using a lighter colour palette to reflect light, and installing glass partitions. But when the sky is grey these strategies can be less impactful. Incorporating ‘human-centric lighting’ with lux properties to encourage balanced hormone production is one of the ways to mimic the body’s natural circadian rhythm without natural light. To create a healthy environment, we recommend implementing the WELL Building Standard’s minimum threshold for daytime light intensity.

Weather indoors

Oh, the weather indoors is frightful / and the heating’s awful spiteful. Don’t let your heating be reminiscent of darker, colder times. Besides, it’s far too early for Christmas tunes! If the heating is cranked up too high or everyone’s wearing scarves because the air-conditioning is pumping, your facilities team is sure to hear about it. Make sure to consider autumn temperatures and provide proper heating and cooling that’s appropriate for the season. There’s a chill in the air, not snow (yet)! You can’t please everyone all the time but installing zonal heating may ease some of the bigger complaints. If your system allows you to slightly adjust your ambient temperature by a few degrees up or down in different areas, employees can move to where they feel most comfortable. Greater autonomy and a sufficient climate control system which lets people regulate their own environment will help staff feel more in control and engaged.

Get moving

It gets more and more difficult to stay active when the weather turns. It’s demotivating to look up from your desk and stare out into an endless grey sky. You really don’t want to walk around the block or go for a run. Now what? Some employers have the space to install a gym but it’s not a solution for everyone. Others ask for flexible spaces that can be reconfigured for different purposes – like a yoga class in the boardroom or a HITT session in the breakout area. If these aren’t appropriate for during the day or you don’t have showers in the building, schedule them in the evening. Even standing could help you reach your fitness goals! UK health experts now recommend office workers sit less and aim to stand for at least two hours during each workday.

Pack it up

You have to accept that there’s a direct correlation between cold weather and office clutter. Umbrellas, coats and shoes are the main culprits; worse still when they’re wet and dripping! Whether you’re moving or refurbishing your existing space, you probably already have an idea of how much storage you need. We like to have fun with the storage that we install in our design and build projects. Not only do lockers create boundaries for different office areas, but they’re also perfect for incorporating bright pops of your brand colours, graphics or even biophilic elements. If you don’t have a lot of space to work with in your main office area, you could position a discrete bank of lockers close to the main entrance. You could also consider other underutilised spaces like the reception or corridors, which in most cases can easily fit an umbrella stand or a hidden coat cupboard.