Stress is an inevitable part of any workplace. Recently, however, the issue has been highlighted as a serious problem for UK businesses, with over 57% of the 26.8 million sick days taken in 2017/18 taken due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression.

Fortunately, there are things that can be done to mitigate feelings of stress amongst workers and, by extension, improve productivity within a business. Designing office space around the wellbeing of workers, for example, can help keep employees focused, calm and happy. Here are a few tips for nurturing a stress-free environment:

1. Consider the colour scheme carefully
It can be easy to forget the profound effect that colours have on our mood and emotional wellbeing. For areas in which you want to foster creativity and free-thinking, for example, opt for office furniture that is bright and cheerful. For spaces that people go to relax and take a break, opt for muted tones to encourage feelings of peace.

2. Welcome nature into the office
According to a recent scientific report, spending time in the natural world can be hugely beneficial to a person’s mental health. Although outdoor working is not really viable, bringing nature into the office represents the next best thing.

As well as offering something calming and pleasant to look at, plants will improve the air quality in your space. Having elements of the natural environment inside the office can easily lift a mood and is a proven way to increase productivity and reduce stress. Biophilic design takes this to the next level, it refers to humans innate connection to nature. Designers achieve this using natural materials to liven office furniture or features, bringing nature into the office including plants, and considering the importance of natural light.

3. Make sure spaces receives enough natural light
The amount of natural light a person is exposed to on a daily basis can have a huge impact on their overall wellbeing. If an office lacks big windows and struggles to draw in light, a design could include some large mirrors or office furniture and floor coverings with reflective surfaces. This will help reflect and spread available light throughout the space. Ensure the positioning of cabinets, desks and other furniture to improve the amount of natural light that can enter the entire room.

4. Try to encourage social interaction
Finally, it is always a good idea to designate certain areas of the office for social interaction and relaxation. Providing space where employees do not feel pressured to talk about business is vital as it allows them to recuperate and blow off some steam. Another key aspect of workplace stress is lack of exercise. Workers who don’t exercise often experience high levels of physical and mental stress. In order to encourage staff to get up from their desks and move around a bit, ensure you factor in the additional space.