Soothing tones and a pop of color welcome clients in the front entry of Red Oak Realty, Montclair office

I believe that creating beautiful spaces supports us in creating the beautiful life that we want to live. I believe interior design is a process of shaping your external world to match and inspire the you that you are, and the you who is always in the process of becoming.

With design, we create spaces that nurture us and the people we invite in, our families, our friends, and if we are talking about public spaces, that includes our staff, our clients, our customers, our communities. Our tribe.

So, I hope you’ll agree with me, design is no small thing.

Recently I was listening to an interview with one of my favorite current thinkers, Simon Sinek, on The Good Life Project.

In it, he touched on some key elements about the workplace and success. Everyone wants to know, what makes a company successful? And, related to that, how can I get the most value out of my employees?

Sinek says, “The role of leadership is to ensure that the people inside your company feel so safe that they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other and even the company, knowing full well, that the leader cares about them desperately.”

He goes on to explain that, on a biological level, if an employer takes care of her or his employees like family, if the staff feels safe, oxytocin is released. This leads to more generous behavior; they happily give more of themselves. There is no work-life imbalance in that scenario.

Which got me thinking about the importance of tribe and connection, and the relationship that design has to how people feel in the workplace.

Could good design contribute to a company’s success? What if how your workplace is designed encouraged connection, generosity, loyalty, and a sense of safety for your employees, customers, and clients?

Sinek’s ideas coincide with my belief that creating beauty in public spaces such as restaurants and offices can both increase your bottom-line and support the wellbeing of your tribe.

How do you do that?

Here are a few ideas: 7 Strategies for Office Design to Increase Productivity and Happiness

  • Quality materials: If your office is furnished with high-quality items, real wood, glass, metals. When you surround your staff with pieces that have weight, stability, style, and are made with love and care, that energy infuses your space, inspires your team, and makes them feel well held.

Communal table, Red Oak Realty, Solano office

  • Ergonomics: It goes without saying, almost, that ergonomic furniture is key: comfortable padded seating, adjustability in both chairs and desks (we now know, sitting is the new smoking).

Secluded but not separate: Meeting booths at Red Oak Realty, Solano

  • Areas for Ideas, Areas for Rest: Work pods, lounging pods, areas where your staff can riff, take notes, connect, collaborate, dream (figuratively or literally: Health Check: Are Naps Good for Us?)

Seating for many to gather and lounge: Lampwork Lofts, Oakland

  • Color: Colors have long been examined for their relationship to productivity in the workplace. Those studies that can be found online tend to only examine the primaries (red, blue, green, yellow). Like this one: How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity. However, some researchers have looked at the impact of saturation levels also. Wallpaper adds options in this area. Think again of not only how color inspires brain function, but also the effects created by shapes, lines, texture, and weight.

Private conference room with a view;  calming blue-tone walls support mental clarity. Red Oak Realty, Montclair

  • Light: Having adequate light impacts mood and productivity. Having beautiful light fixtures inspires greatness (scientific study on this, pending…)

A welcoming entry accented with rustic materials and fixtures to echo nature inside and out. At Red Oak Realty, Solano

  • Access to Nature: We are animals; we need to connect to our natural environment to feel whole. Windows, outdoor or indoor plants and water features, art that depicts nature.

A former bank vault becomes a restful nature retreat via thoughtful selection of artwork and natural wood materials. At Red Oak Realty, Montclair

  • Art: Art is, by definition, inspiring. And we don’t mean that kitty hanging from a tree branch, though… played in just the right way… Real art, good art, can go miles to making a space, a workplace, feel amazing, energizing, whole, even holy — if that is the vibe you seek.

Multiple art pieces and bright colors punctuate the common hallways at Lampwork Lofts, San Francisco

There is an expression that comes from Buddhist philosophy: “How we do one thing is how we do everything.”

If we want to deliver quality products and experiences to our clients and customers with care, then creating a quality and caring environment for our staff is an unquestionable need.

And good design is key.

If we treat our staff like the humans that they are, they will default to their true nature. Humans by nature are kind, loving, generous, engaging, and seeking connection. It’s time we all got back to our true nature. Then we can become the people we came here to be, and give our gifts to each other. There’s no reason why this can’t be the case at work, as well as at home.