In the midst of a busy, stressful day, wouldn’t it be lovely to go somewhere to get out of the way and just stop and relax for a few moments?
In a lot of work environments that simply isn’t possible due to the layout of the office or lack of space. However, every office has a meeting room, be it a big boardroom or a tiny space you can all cram into. What if that space could be used for more than meetings?
A meeting room is a meeting room, until you make it multifunctional, so it can become a chill out space or a wellbeing room or a mental health support room. All of these would be beneficial to an employees’ mental health and wellness.
And all it takes is a few simple additions, to turn a meeting room into a space for humans to rest and restore at work.
Making a space comfortable and welcoming is key, so consider some warm tactile soft furnishings. Think of the Danish style known as hygge, this is all about feeling of the sense safety, comfort and contentment. Perhaps a sense of homeliness at work.
Light and sound
Light and sound both have huge impacts on how we feel and can add to stressful situations.
Light has a big influence due to how it affects our circadian rhythm. This is what helps us form patterns for eating and sleeping and it can affect our moods too. Natural light changes during the day from the soft light of morning, to the bright light at noon back to a dusky light come evening time. In an office environment many are under fluorescent tubes all day, which doesn’t allow our bodies to adjust naturally to the changes in daylight. This is why in the winter it is such a shock to go from the bright light of the office to the darkness outside.
Mood lighting can be applied to the space to change how the users are feeling. For example, green light as it is the colour of nature can portray calmness, harmony and tranquillity. Blue light is peaceful and induces confidence, intelligence and sincerity. While purple light can be used to help reduce mental and emotional stress.
As for sound, it can be very intrusive and a real stress point if not addressed. Did you know that it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track after being interrupted? Introducing sounds from nature such as gentle rain, the waves lapping on the beach, forest noises etc, can all have a calming effect and would be an ideal addition to a chill out room. It would also help to blank out the office noises of phones ringing and emails pinging.
Scents and air quality
Some smells are good like fresh bread, coffee or fresh mown grass. But other smells can be bad like strong perfume or old bath salts. Scents can also enhance your mood just like light and sound can.
To help staff destress lemon, lavender and jasmine can be used as they have calming properties. Or if the idea is to boost energy levels then rosemary, cinnamon and peppermint oils are ideal. It’s important to note that some people can have adverse reactions to aromatherapy, so advice sheets should be made available.
Bespoke scents can be created by specialist companies and automatically applied to the room or a selection of natural sprays can be stored in the room and used as required.
Room with a view
Most meeting rooms have an LCD screen or pull down screen for presentations. This technology can be stressful to use if it isn’t a slick system. There is nothing more stressful than glitchy tech, so applying technology in a chill out room will need professional advice.
Assuming the screen works they can be used to provide a view. This can be a beach, a forest, a mountain top or a night sky. Connecting with nature is always beneficial so any of these views will have a positive input into a member of staff’s wellbeing.
These are just a few top line ideas which could be used to transform a drab meeting room into a beneficial sensory room that transport employees to other places without ever leaving the office.
Remember, the human animal needs to connect with nature. Just a selection of these suggestions can make a big difference to a working environment, where we all spend so much of our time.