How workplace design can support employee fitness goals

As we arrive into the fourth month of 2024, how many among us can declare their New Years’ Resolutions complete or consistent?

If you’ve found yourself falling out of touch with your resolutions, you’re not alone. Keeping to your resolutions, particularly fitness-related resolutions, can become more of a marathon than a fun run over the course of the year. Sticking at it is made even more difficult with sedentary desk jobs and busy schedules; so much so that if your workplace doesn’t support employee fitness goals, reaching your resolutions can seem like an insurmountable task.


How workplace design can encourage movement - Fuze

Workplace design is crucial for supporting employee fitness goals


Workplace design that supports employee fitness, while of course benefitting employees, will also further the goals of an organisation. Reduced health risks and absenteeism, enhanced individual effectiveness, and improved productivity are all reasons why employee wellness is important, and workspaces that encourage movement encourage wellness.

Before we discuss how the design of a workplace can help improve employee fitness, it’s important to keep in mind that traditional exercise may not be suitable or accessible for everyone. Creating an environment where employees feel supported regardless of their fitness choices is key and, as discussed in our previous article, it is crucial to keep up a dialogue with employees regarding their health and wellness needs.

So, with that in mind, how can workplace design support employee health and fitness goals?

The first thought of many will be the ‘on-site gym’ (for some, this thought may be accompanied by an eyeroll) - but such an investment isn’t always feasible. Thankfully, there are many other ways in which the design of your workplace can encourage motion – read on for some of our suggestions.


Height-adjustable desks

Employee fitness: height adjustable desks - Elev8

The height-adjustable desk counters the negative effects of prolonged sitting


The height-adjustable or sit-stand desk has been popular in the world of workplace wellness ever since their conception. These desks aid in fitness for office workers and counter the detrimental effects of sitting for prolonged periods, by allowing office workers to move more often. This extra movement leads to increased blood flow, improved metabolic function, and improved focus as a result.

Workplace fitness tip 1: Try adhering to the 20-8-2 rule (which refers to a schedule of 20 minutes sitting, 8 minutes standing, and a 2-minute walkaround)



Dedicated work zones

The modern workplace is increasingly embracing the concept of the ‘agile workplace’, a concept which we have explored in-depth in previous articles. In summary, an agile workplace is one in which the office is separated into task-specific work zones, allowing employees to choose where they work for whichever task they are undertaking. This door to welcome freedom is also known as “activity-based workplace design”.

When it comes to the employee fitness challenge, a workplace divided in this manner provides an effective solution by encouraging consistent movement between workspaces. By scattering zones such as collaborative spaces, focus spaces, and social spaces throughout the workspace, employees have much more reason to get out of their seats and give their legs a good stretch.

Workplace fitness tip 2: If feasible, try working in a different part of the office for a period during the day.



‘Destination Spaces’

Employee fitness: Destination spaces - Priva

Destination Spaces encourage movement throughout the office


Similar to the concept of agile workspaces and dedicated work zones, organisations should consider the placement of ‘destination spaces’ throughout the workplace.

Destination spaces, including amenities such as coffee stations and support spaces such as print and copy areas, can be distributed throughout the office. In doing so, they become destinations for employees to visit throughout the day, encouraging further movement. Extra consideration should be taken with regards to the placement of these spaces, as placing them in desirable areas (such as in locations with an attractive view) encourages more frequent use.

Workplace fitness tip 3: Try filling up your water bottle somewhere further away than usual, such as beyond a set of stairs or in a different department.




Agile Meetings

Another consideration for employee fitness should be the review of the spaces available for meetings. The traditional boardroom is often enclosed and can even be claustrophobic, which doesn’t allow for much movement. Providing mobile furniture, such as tables, chairs, and even whiteboards on castors, not only helps attendees stay engaged, but makes meetings more dynamic, active, and full of movement.

Workplace fitness tip 4: Try a ‘walking meeting’ – take your attendees on the go (as long as all attendees are able-bodied and on board to keep up!)



Colour psychology

Colour psychology and meeting furniture - Show

Agile meeting furniture, along with the colour orange, can boost employee motivation


Beyond physical, tangible considerations, your workspace can use psychology to assist in employee health and fitness, too. Using mood-enhancing colours that boost energy and positivity, such as orange, can go a long way in heightening employees motivation to get up and move around. While colour preferences are subjective, studies have shown that the following colours are likely to affect your mood in certain ways…

  • Red : A powerful hue that offers heart-rate boosting powers, making you feel more alert and energised. However, it is best to balance this hue with more neutral and natural tones in order to avoid feelings of aggression and agitation.
  • Orange: The best hue for boosting energy and excitement, orange blends the passion of red with the optimism of yellow. Orange is considered the colour of energy, creativity, and motivation.
  • Purple: This hue is associated with power, luxury, and ambition, making it an optimal colour to use when your aim is to get employees motivated to move and improve.

When integrating these colours into the office, it’s important to note that over-exposure to bright colours can negatively affect concentration and cause visual strain, and as such it’s best to use them sparingly and tactically throughout the workspace.

Workplace fitness tip 5: If you have your own desk space in the workplace, try bringing in a photo or object that you find motivational or inspiring towards your goals.




When it comes to employee wellness and wellbeing, it’s important that an individual’s workspace supports them to reach their fitness goals. In addition, opening a dialogue with your workforce regarding these goals is crucial to give them the best chance of sticking to their resolutions, and improving their health.

Do you feel your workplace supports you in improving your fitness and health? Share your thoughts, along with this article, with the hashtag #DamsFitness!