The 6 Dimensions of Office Wellbeing: #3 Authenticity


What happens when workers feel like they can’t be themselves at the workplace? What can we do to help workers feel comfortable and connected, so they bring their best selves to the work they do? As part of our series on office wellbeing, the article below from Steelcase addresses the third dimension of wellbeing, authenticity. You'll learn how connections and customizable environments help cultivate authenticity in the workplace. We'll also share some tips and design considerations that help workers feel more comfortable and connected.



In workplaces of the past as popularized by Dilbertville and “Mad Men,” allowing yourself to be vulnerable or show emotion at work was considered unacceptable. With “fight or flight” emotions in high gear, many workers are still accustomed to defending themselves by keeping up a pretense of perfection and expected behaviors, which leads to frustration, resentment and unhealthy behaviors.

Wellbeing, in contrast, is cultivated by personal expressiveness — the freedom to be who you are, at work as well as away from work.

Gallup poll data from more than a decade of surveying people has revealed that the most important factor in wellbeing on the job is to have a best friend at work. Relationships anchor people’s commitment to the larger organization. Having close friends and positive interactions can’t happen without trust, which requires authenticity. “Even in Eastern cultures with their legacy of collectiveness versus individualism, the authenticity of self and being able to express that at work is become more important to wellbeing,” says Beatriz Arantes, a Steelcase WorkSpace Futures researcher.

Cultivating authenticity in the workplace

“Workers need spaces where they can feel a part of the organization’s culture, while feeling encouraged to express their own ideas and values,” notes Arantes. “Leaders set standards and a tone of authenticity, while customizable work environments and social settings can reinforce the message.”

Workers connecting with each other in a work lounge

This lounge allows coworkers to connect formally- whether it’s for socializing or to share ideas. The home-life environment allows people to be themselves.

Design Considerations:

  1. Create spaces that help people feel comfortable to express themselves and share their ideas.
  2. Incorporate informal, non-constricting environments with a home-like feel.

Design areas that help people connect their personal values to the brand values.

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