Flexibility: Many employees moved to flexible work arrangements during the pandemic, and once they got into their groove, they liked what they found. Working from home helped workers balance their personal and professional lives, leading to reduced overall stress and better mental health. Along with hybrid work arrangements, I see flexible daily and weekly schedules, full-time remote positions, and unlimited PTO as flexibility in the work place trends to watch for.

The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Delia, NCIDQ.

Tina Delia is the Founder & Principal Interior Designer of Delia Designs. Tina and her team offer Boutique Interior Design Services for the Hospitality & Residential industries in Philadelphia, PA & beyond. Tina just launched Bloom, a bedding and bath product line promoting personal empowerment and serenity.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the dialogue. While growing up I had heard, if you choose a career that you truly enjoy, you will never work a day in your life. When I was 13, I declared that I wanted to be an attorney. I absolutely fell in love with the idea of fighting for justice, and I became fascinated with the art of the argument. I set my sights on becoming an attorney and put blinders on to anything else. I went to law school, graduated, passed the bar and started practicing. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be and quite frankly I felt miserable. I started to take art courses during my free evenings. That’s when I knew I wanted to find a career that allowed me to combine my analytical and creative skills. That’s when I found Interior Architecture and Design. Starting my career as an interior designer was extremely challenging but through all of the ups and downs, I’ve never felt more content, like I am finally living my life’s purpose. For me, interior design isn’t just about creating beautiful spaces, it’s about touching the lives of the people who live, work and move through those spaces.

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

Great question! Life throws curve balls at us all the time and sometimes we might be up against a deadline or distracted by other things causing our intentions for wellness to wane. The pendulum might swing one way this month and another the following. Having a finger on the pulse of where you are placing your energy is key to how to live a full and balanced life. For us, wellness is defined as living life fully with the integration of mind, body and spirit. It’s about holistic health through the pursuit of activities, nutrition and lifestyle. When my energy seems depleted, if I’m more emotional or if it takes me much longer than usual to complete certain work tasks, I know that it’s time to make an assessment.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

When we are working with a business who wants to incorporate wellness principles into the interior design of their space, we encourage the client to measure the impact of the design implementation at the outset. Occupant experience surveys are one easy way to connect building performance with the people inside, so organizations can make smarter decisions for their employees and business. In addition, we specify monitors and sensors to test air quality, water quality, thermal conditions and acoustic performance. We aren’t always privy to the turn-over rate within the offices we design for but evidence has proven that if turn-over is high, there is an issue to solve.

Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?

It’s all about making incremental progress and improvements over time. I suggest thinking about employee wellness as any other investment in the business. The key is to budget for the programs at the outset of the year just as you would with any other expenses such as marketing, education, supplies, etc. In addition, it’s a good idea to think outside the box when it comes to wellness programs. There are many programs that can be implemented with little to no funding at all.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you or your clients incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

Although wellness programs are typically thought of as ways to improve employee well-being, they can also serve as valuable talent acquisition tools. We are very transparent about who we are as a company. I am constantly sharing wellness culture initiatives on social media. I upload photos of well-being activities and events, and create videos that highlight how Delia Designs values a holistic approach to employee well-being. It’s important to differentiate your process from other employers who only focus on health care costs. I look at employee well-being from physical, financial, and emotional viewpoints to truly promote wellness and show employees I care.

We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.

  • Mental Wellness: How I show up as a leader affects how others around me show up. It affects how they think, feel, care, speak, and listen. That’s why mentally healthy workplaces start with mindful leaders. I’m a huge proponent of mindful meditation and visualization. Mental health and wellness programs don’t need to be serious. Injecting some fun into your employees’ day can help relieve stress and give them a respite from monotonous work. One activity I love doing with new hires is creating a vision board for career goals. This helps me to understand where their interests lie and in turn, I believe it helps connect us on a new level.
  • Emotional Wellness: Yoga is known for physical health benefits, but also for its connection to emotional health. Managing your mind and your mood is the key to flourishing. One activity I find to be extremely helpful is hosting a yoga session either at a local studio or in the office. It helps to host the event during the last hour of work, so everyone can change into their workout gear and go home comfortably. After the sweat sesh, provide some easy and simple refreshments.
  • Social Wellness: I am a firm believer that happiness at work is linked to feeling socially connected to the office. There are easy ways to foster social connections such as after work happy hours, team building exercises, game nights, and other social outings. In addition, I have a private Facebook page where we upload photos and videos either of our lives to stay connected or of work place shenanigans. It’s such a great way to stay connected.
  • Physical Wellness: The FB page is also a wonderful place where employees can talk about their wellness efforts, build peer support and accountability. Company-wide competitions on these platforms can add some healthy pressure that makes wellness more fun and effective. Incentives can be tied to participation or for achieving specific results, like hitting activity goals or verified weight loss metrics. Another fantastic initiative is to host “field days”. Break the office into teams and compete in various activities such as the 50-yard dash, kickball, water balloon toss and the three-legged race. The purpose of these games is to emphasize the importance of physical activities while creating a relaxed atmosphere for teams to interact.
  • Financial Wellness: When I was a new graduate, finances were the number one reason I lost sleep. I would start thinking about how much student loan debt I had and immediately start stressing out. That’s why I find it extremely important to open the dialog with employees about financial literacy. This can be easily accomplished through hosting financial planning workshops. A really fun way to do this is in lunch and learn format. Invite your financial advisor to come into the office and speak to employees about budgeting, saving, credit card debt, and student loan debt.

Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?

Clocking 40-plus hours each week at a job means the average American spends a significant amount of time in the workplace. With so much time spent in one place, it’s important to encourage your employees to make the most of that time and do their best to stay healthy. More than ever before, companies are being held to a higher standard for how they care for their employees. Employees are becoming conscious of the importance of good nutrition, a healthy and active lifestyle, managing stress and cultivating peace of mind. It seems logical to conclude that improving employee wellness will improve employee happiness, which has a direct link to that employee staying in a current position. The bottom line is that if employees are not happy, they will leave. This is true even if it’s not for more money. In a post Covid world, we are all searching for what feeds our soul. It is about time that we all put workplace wellness at the forefront of our initiatives.

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

I believe in “practice what you preach”. It’s important for me to set a good example for leaders on my team so they can hopefully be inspired by my holistic approach to wellness. I also make it a part of my onboarding to have an in depth conversation about the different areas of wellness and how we can implement new activities to support the wellness culture.

Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?

The key to creating a successful well work environment in both the short and long term is to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s important to guide clients into answering what might daily work life look like in the future.

As we proactively envision how people will interact with their jobs and career ambitions, we can reveal how workspaces of the future could be utilized, and what they might look and feel like.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

  1. Diversity and Inclusion: Up at the top of my list because I help a lot of clients looking to provide a sense of company culture and belonging that goes beyond physical space. Workplace designs will be able to play a role in ensuring equity across platforms — all employees feel they are an equal part of a company, no matter where, when, or how they choose to work. We are designing many office spaces that provide employees with a sliding scale of spaces, offering them the option of where best to conduct their work depending on their wellbeing and psychological needs. In the same way that mothering rooms, prayer rooms and yoga spaces are being added to offices, the workplace is now becoming better equipped for neurodiverse workers. (ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are all examples of neurodiverse conditions)
  2. Flexibility: Many employees moved to flexible work arrangements during the pandemic, and once they got into their groove, they liked what they found. Working from home helped workers balance their personal and professional lives, leading to reduced overall stress and better mental health. Along with hybrid work arrangements, I see flexible daily and weekly schedules, full-time remote positions, and unlimited PTO as flexibility in the work place trends to watch for.
  3. Technological Advances: Tech has always transformed workplace dynamics. Laptops, smartphones and convertible tablets ushered in a new area of mobility. This, in turn, has transformed workplace design. New tech continues to transform businesses of all types and sizes. Think wearables, media streaming, and wireless charging. Cloud-based personal communication services. Content sharing solutions and productivity apps. It’s a list with no end in sight.
  4. Biophilic interior design elements: Whether it’s a run through the forest or a swim in the ocean, being immersed in nature has the power to bring clarity and tranquility to our minds. Biophilic design is gaining traction, and more clients are asking us to incorporate the principles into the places in which we live and work. Biophilic design can increase productivity; lower stress levels, and boost mood. In 2020, scientists found that “biophilic environments“ had larger therapeutic impacts than non-biophilic environments in terms of reducing physiological stress and psychological anxiety levels.
  5. Sustainability: Sustainable design is not just about the amount of recycling bins you put into your office. Businesses are now seeking ways to make their offices more appealing to staff and so more time is being dedicated to creating sustainable environments that align with carbon net zero initiatives. Other sustainable goals such as taking advantage of natural light and passive ventilation, sticking to low-emission materials and re-using or re-purposing furniture, businesses can easily lessen their environmental impact.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

None of us can perfectly predict the future. That said, as the pandemic progresses, workplaces re-open, and we consider what comes next, stakeholders must ensure they are positioned to respond and adapt to what the future holds, whatever that may be.

This is why we urge business owners and leaders, developers, fellow interior designers, and others to remain diligent — through not shying away from innovative thinking and research, staying abreast of trends, and consistently considering how to best serve business and employee needs across physical and virtual workspaces. We also encourage them to be deliberate about what variables are most important to their culture and identity.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

I’d love to continue the conversation. Readers can follow me on Instagram @deliadesigns.tina OR at these links


Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.