What You Need to Know about Multi-Sensory Office Design

2017-11-22T20:52:12+00:00November 26th, 2017|Workplace Design, Wellbeing|

Companies around the world are taking steps to humanize the workplace through offering a sensory experience, using the power of multi-sensory design to engage and inspire workers. Employee wellbeing has been proven to significantly impact performance and productivity, so employers are shifting their focus to the health and happiness of their workers. Office design is just the first step.

Workplaces need to be consumer-centric and focus on the usability and comfortability of the space. Multi-sensory design engages all five senses and transforms spaces to support our experience at work. Sight often takes precedence in architecture and design, but we respond to all senses: sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. Multi-sensory design benefits employee and employer alike; by taking into account the human experience, designers can increase the desirability of a workplace. Workers like their offices to feel positive and in turn, work better.

Italian firm Il Prisma, a Steelcase distributor, researched how the five senses affect people in the office. Their findings were that sensorial design improves concentration and learning. Purposeful multi-sensory design can also create cohesivity and a brand-friendly space that supports your company culture and customer experience.

Want to stimulate employees’ minds? Try multi-sensory design.


Although one of the easier senses to appeal to in design, visual stimulation is integral in the perception of your office. Colors have a psychological impact on us, so use them to your advantage. Red stimulates us; green re-energizes us; and blue calms us.

Patterns and lighting are also great for engaging workers. According to a Terrapin report, schools with lots of windows that filter in daylight saw an 18 percent increase in test scores and having outdoor views reduces eye strain and relieves mental fatigue. Biophilic design appeals to our innate attraction to nature and can encourage productivity. Just seeing patterns and elements tied to nature helps workers stay engaged.


Texture and materials not only bring depth and intrigue to the look of your office but they encourage workers to interact with their surroundings. They evoke feelings simply with a touch. Softer materials bring comfort and ask you to stay a while, and textured fabrics like wool and nubby blankets can bring personality and complexity to unique spaces.

Thermal comfort is also essential in creating a sensory experience in the office. Make sure the temperature in the office is comfortable for employees, and keep a stash of blankets and fans in case.


Sight isn’t the only way you can incorporate biophilic design into the office.  Nature sounds are relaxing and create tranquility. Sound impacts the atmosphere of a space. For example, playing light music creates a culture of fun and creativity. Offering rooms for people to go to when they need complete quiet or can choose their own auditory experience is important too, so workers have a choice in how they work.


The aromas in an office should be subtle to not aggravate sensitive noses. But with the right scent, the office can transform into a warm, welcoming space people look forward to spending time in. Use fresh flowers, scented candles or essential oils to create a pleasant, comfortable area.


Colors and smells can appeal to taste, reminding us of our favorite foods and spices. To take it a step further though, provide employees free coffee or midday snacks. This encourages wellbeing and creates a culture of health and care. An energy boost is a perfect solution for a fueled, creative mind.

It’s important to keep in mind that finding a balance is key for the design to work. Overwhelming employees with an abundance of intense colors or sounds can have the reverse effect that we want. All these elements should establish a rounded, cohesive space that allows employees to work at their best.

If you need help planning your space, schedule a free call with one of our design experts.