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Office Design Based on The Core Principles of Rest and Motion

Ahhh. The morning routine.

You take a shower, read the paper, brainstorm the best way to navigate traffic on your way to the gym, catch a bus to work and then settle into your cube so you can focus intensely on a deadline-driven project.


While you may feel that you're in a constant state of go-go-go, in reality, each person's day is driven by fluctuations between two states: rest and motion.

Rest and motion most likely bring up thoughts of afternoon naps (wouldn't that be lovely) and after work workouts. However, when talking office design, we will be referring to mental rest and mental motion in the workplace. Think of motion as the equivalent of work and play for the brain and rest as relaxation, creativity, fun, or a general break for the constantly-thinking at-work brain. In fact, for most of us, when we say we're tired, or need a break, it's often really that we're looking for a short period of rest from the same mental demands rather than the physical demands, isn't it?

Because most people spend the majority of their days at the office or workplace, considering how office and workplace design can promote the right levels of rest and motion is integral to an efficient, effective workplace—not to mention, happy employees.

Striking a rest-and-motion balance improves employee wellbeing.

In a typical day, most of your hours are spent in motion–which makes sense because our natural tendency is toward motion with very little time spent in rest. Even if you're sitting at a desk, you're not resting are you? Not likely, as your mind is still thinking, functioning, brainstorming, problem solving, and moving forward.

While most think of rest as a reward, instead a mental break should be a goal, even in the workplace. Why? Because periods of rest are proven to rejuvenate the mind, allowing for increased creativity and performance.

So when was the last time you took a mental rest? What about your employees?

Mental rest can sometimes be overlooked for physical rest, and yet it's just as important, possibly moreso, when accomplishing tasks at work.

Employees are most productive when they have a balance of motion and rest in their days. Rest should be used intermittently and in intervals as employees complete a task, not as an incentive only once the task is complete.

But productivity isn't the only way your workplace will benefit from encouraged rest. Rest will positively transform your employees' psychological outlook, cultivating a corporate culture where employees are happy. Office spaces designed with work, rest and relaxation in mind foster better employee engagement and rapport.

To promote the right balance of rest and motion, office design should facilitate ways for employees to enjoy both during their hours spent in the workplace.

Resting in small doses to avoid the monotony:

Few people enjoy extended periods of monotonous work without a break.

While consistency and stability carry a positive connotation denoting steadiness and reliability, monotony carries a negative connotation which brings to mind daily work routines that lack interest and variety and is hardly tolerable for the majority of employees.

Our mutual dislike for monotony explains why many love spending brief moments enjoying a rest break but dread spending days resting in bed or with nothing at all to do for days at a time. Likewise, working feels great, but working at the same tasks day in and day out zaps energy and motivation.

The truth is, most people's ground state (or lowest energy state) is that of motion, which propels them toward an achievable purpose, rather than being at rest. So whether we realize it or not, we are most often in a constant state of motion while at work, either physical or mental.

Here's an example:

Think about a slow, monotonous day at the office when you have little to no work. Every second drags into minutes and then agonizing hours. The day stretches out endlessly, driving you stir crazy. You can't leave. You're stuck in that cubicle, completely mentally unproductive. When you are finally on your way home, you think, "I've done nothing all day and yet, I'm exhausted."

Your mental ground state was at work even in the midst of monotony, and without rest, causing you to be beat by day's end.

So how can you break the monotony and engage your employees and create a more productive work environment that values both motion and rest? We're glad you asked.

Using workspace design to promote rest-and-motion balance:

To balance rest and motion in the workplace, create an environment that supports both collaborative and individual work. For example, include options for employees to both focus intently (motion) and socialize comfortably (rest) by providing a good mix of meeting rooms, private work stations and areas designated for chatting about outside-of-work interests.

Also, avoid extremes.

If your workplace is too open, the potential for distractions can hinder productivity and strip privacy, decreasing employee satisfaction and increasing mental exhaustion. In fact, according to a study conducted by ask.com, 61% of employees sited loud coworkers as the number one distraction to productive work. On the other hand, an office space with too many barriers between workers can feel stifling and claustrophobic and prevent employees from building rapport with one another.

In addition to a good mix of spaces, a renewal room offers a place where employees can physically step away from the ho-hum of activity and take a mental break. Studies show that our minds shift from alertness to fatigue about every 90 minutes, but we often suppress the cues for rest, working continuously throughout the day. Being able to break away and allowing the mind to rejuvenate itself makes for better work and a sharper, more alert mind. Often, the most important tool you can use to solve a cumbersome problem is to simply take a break, and let your mind rest.

Rest easy. We can help.

By designing your office with rest and motion in mind, you'll increase your chances of retaining top employees while keeping them happy and performing at their very best.

If you're looking for the right partner to help you with your space design and furniture, call us at 877-779-3409 or contact us using our online form.

We're excited to help you take your office design, furniture, and office productivity to the next level.



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