Office design can help ease workplace anxiety – 10 Dec 2014 – BD Live
Post written by Paragon Interiors   October 22, 2015

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EMPLOYERS must consider their office design as they grapple with productivity losses from depression and anxiety, office design firm Paragon Interiors said on Tuesday.

Depression was one of the most common health issues affecting the workplace, with constant distraction and disruption at the office one of the contributing factors to stress, the marketing manager at Paragon Interiors, Lucy le Roux, said in a statement.

Up to 60% of employees in high density open plan offices were placed near a source of distraction such as high volume employee corridors or a printer, with global research indicating this could disrupt around 25% of an employee’s workday, she said.

“If someone is already battling to cope with the demands made on them by corporate life then not being able to get their work done and having to work longer hours and (working) during the evenings at home is just going to exacerbate the problem,” said Ms le Roux.

For the depressed, having designated social areas would assist in avoiding disruption, while providing an opportunity for building friendships among colleagues — which decreases psychological strain and makes the mentally ill more likely to seek help, Paragon said.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2020 depression will be the second largest burden to the health system, while 69% of the costs to businesses and other organisations are indirect, and difficult to measure.

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) founder Zane Wilson said on Tuesday that the group was in the process of finalising research into depression in the workplace, and expected to present the results in January.

Some problems being highlighted were the continued issues of stigmatisation of those with mental health issues, and the level of openness and disclosure within the workplace.

The group was also investigating the possibility of using flexible work hours, and the seeming success of toll-free help lines, at companies, said Ms Wilson. Sadag was of course interested in the health of patients, but would be presenting it to human resources managers in a bid to convince them of the financial benefits of caring for their employees, she said.