How a Good Office Layout Can Relieve Pressure


In trying to identify the workplace pressures that cause stress, we often overlook the obvious one that is staring us in the face, all day and everyday - office layout and design.

It doesn’t take much to see that the size and shape of our workspace area, and the general ambience of its surroundings, can impact greatly on job satisfaction. But employers have been slow to see the benefits of creative space-planning, and reluctant to invest in it.

However, one London web-hosting company did so, after clients complained about its high staff turnover. They commissioned an environmental review, where human needs and satisfactions were formally analysed as part of the re-design brief. The impact on staff retention was so favourable that clients wanted to visit the office to see how it was done!

Dignity and Informality

Much of it comes down to retaining some privacy in the age of the open-plan office. Workstations should not only have space around them, but should be arranged in irregular formations to avoid a factory-type atmosphere. And then, somewhere within sight, you need the break-out room for informal meetings over coffee or snacks, or even snooker or table-tennis. For with today’s unlimited working hours, one cannot keep people in duty-mode all round the clock; we must recognise that work is now treated as a part-social activity.

One portent is that office design is now more often classified under HR, rather than Facilities. And, certainly, in my home city of London, the number of office design companies just never stops growing. Latest offerings from the drawing-board have included one office designed like the shells of a prawn and another carpeted in Astro-turf!

  • Bad office design and poor seating are less-recognised cause of workplace stress
  • We should actively compensate for open-plan design and loss of privacy
  • Environmental reviews are shown to boost morale and staff retention


Stress Tip of the Week

Healthy Snacking

Snacking may be one way to relieve stress, but the usual choice of crisps or other sugar-rush ingredients could be threatening your health at the same time. Remember the value of fibre as a bulking agent - aiding digestion, protecting the heart, and filling you up as well. This means you are likely to eat less, which is also helpful if you are trying to lose weight. That’s why doctors recommend at least 25 grams of fibre a day. So make a point of taking some fruit or prepared vegetables to work with you to snack on.


Carole Spiers


Author of "Show Stress Who's Boss" Carole is a leading authority on workplace stress, sought after BBC guest-Broadcaster and motivational speaker. She shows managers and staff how to maintain their competitive advantage by achieving a healthy work life balance.

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