We need a new economic paradigm that recognises the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define GROSS GLOBAL HAPPINESS.

—  Fmr. UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon
High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm [1]


International Day of Happiness seeks to advance happiness as a fundamental human right which underpins social and economic development, the core of the UN Sustainable goals. Adopted by a unanimous resolution by the UN member states in 2012, March 20th of every year is commemorated as an #InternationalDayofHappiness and the first International Day of Happiness was celebrated on March 20, 2013. 

In the UAE, Dubai’s progressive agenda has identified happiness as a key element in promoting economic development and social well-being. Following the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai has adopted a “Happiness Agenda” seeking to transform the city by “…measuring, impacting and sustaining happiness for the whole city.” [2]  At the federal level, the UAE has appointed a Minister of State for Happiness as well as launching a National Programme for Happiness and Positivity [3] and developing a Guide to Happiness and Well-being at workplace.

In a mostly urban and economically vibrant setting like the UAE, most people spend the majority of their time at work. There are numerous studies drawing the link between employees’ sense of well-being and their productivity and focus. [4] But beyond the economic objectives, there is the overall goal of providing quality of life for all the inhabitants of the country.

The UAE Government believes that the achievement of happiness is a fundamental human goal and aspiration for all people. Happiness represents a holistic approach to development, wellbeing and prosperity, and it is the path towards a better world.

Guide to Happiness and Well-being at Work [5]


Giving Rise to Happy People at Work: A Holistic Approach


Workplace Wellbeing relates to all aspects of working life, from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how workers feel about their work, their working environment, the climate at work and work organisation. [6]

Employee health and well-being is a serious business. At Summertown Interiors, we understand that employee satisfaction is reflected on the bottom line but that the benefits exceed the merely economic aspect. Workplace happiness is a goal in itself. For this reason, we are continuously developing and refining our approach to increase employee health, safety, and happiness through our sustainability strategy.

Our own Health and Wellbeing program aims to reduce stress, boost morale, promote a healthy lifestyle and improve employee engagement and teamwork. We have had the program for over 8 years and we measure the satisfaction of the program via an annual Health and Wellbeing Program survey.

When we surveyed our employees about our Health and Wellbeing program in 2019 their evaluation included: 

  • 96% said it made them proud of the company;
  • 93% stated that it has increased team spirit among employees;
  • 89% said it increased their loyalty to the company; and
  • 85% claimed that it increased their morale and made them feel energised and more positive

We have also been recognised for our efforts, including being awarded The Happiness @ Work Award Best Workplace Wellness Program’ in 2018. [7] 

Many elements enter into creating a healthier, happier working environment. For instance, offering competitive rewards and benefits, training and development is key to increasing employee satisfaction. Furthermore, it is essential to provide a safe and happy work atmosphere while supporting an appropriate work/life balance. Initiatives can stretch from simple employee recognition tools to office design and fit out.

Creating a happier work environment is our goal, and we monitor our performance through our employee satisfaction surveys to check how we are measuring up. 

Results from our latest Employee Satisfaction Survey conducted in 2019 included:

    • 96% of our employees think that Summertown is a good company to work for. 
    • 89% of our employees are happy in their job.

As part of our on-going efforts, we are currently pursuing our own WELL certification. The WELL Building Standard is an invaluable resource for developing initiatives to contribute to workplace happiness. WELL is becoming the leading benchmark system for “…buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness”. Using the WELL Building Standard, several fit out solutions for healthier and happier workplaces can be identified. Based on the WELL Building Standard concepts and framework, here are some of our tips for a better workplace:

Well Building Standard Infographic

1. Air

  • Ensuring high indoor air quality using latest technologies
  • HVAC system regular cleaning and maintenance
  • When possible, providing access to natural air flows
  • Considering airflow in office fit out and layout
  • Isolating office machines and equipment emitting fumes such as printers and scanners
  • Using high-quality, green materials with low or zero VOC


2. Water

  • Providing access to clean fresh water for employees in toilets, kitchens and pantries, while minimising wastage
  • Providing fresh drinking water, while minimising plastics use i.e. office drinking fountains or water dispensers
  • Encouraging employees to remain hydrated during the day


3. Nourishment

  • Providing access to healthy nutritional foods in employee canteens or pantries when possible. Examples include fruit and veggie station
  • Providing information on nutrition including fast food alternatives like a list of delivery restaurants with healthy options
  • Encouraging employees to take meal and refreshment breaks to keep up energy levels


4. Light

  • Maximising window views
  • Using glass wall partitions to increase access to natural light
  • Integrating human circadian rhythms in office lighting design and execution
  • Providing user-controlled lighting – brightness and tone levels


5. Fitness

  • Instituting employee fitness programs such as office yoga, stretching before or after working hours
  • Providing mini-gym area for quick cardio workouts i.e. office treadmill or weight machine room
  • Encouraging employees to meet fitness goals
  • Providing access and promoting use of stairs instead of lifts


6. Comfort

  • Ergonomic furniture 
  • Devoting areas to rest and relaxation in the working place
  • Ensuring adequate levels of thermal comfort – and providing some level of employee control in temperature levels
  • Providing acoustic comfort by providing quiet areas, soundproof booths, and cutting down on ambient noise. 
  • Creating company culture that promotes neatness, anti-clutter, respect for boundaries, hygiene and healthSummertown Sustainability Goals Infographic


7. Mind

  • Incorporating Biophilic elements – including plants and natural materials
  • Creating different working zones for different types of work (Agile or Activity-based working)
  • Creating value-based company culture that increases employee engagement by recognising employee efforts, respecting the individual and rewarding team achievements


Taking Workplace Happiness Seriously

The UAE is determined to be one of the top 5 happiest places in the world. As proud members of the UAE business community, our mission is to deliver workplaces that contribute to workplace happiness and well-being. Taking care of our employees’ well-being is more than just an issue of metrics for us at Summertown Interiors. It is part of our value system and is embedded in our sustainability strategy, and our three JOURNEY2030 sustainability goals:

  1. Delivering 100% sustainability
  2. Improving happiness & well-being
  3. Generating zero waste by 2030

There are many ways to increase the happiness of your employees today. We can help you find the most appropriate and sustainable solutions to meet your current and future needs. To discuss more on how to integrate these approaches in your workplace fit out, reach out to Summertown Interiors now.




[1] “Ban: new economic paradigm needed, including social and environmental progress”. UN News. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2019.

[2] http://en.happinessagenda.ae/overview

[3] https://u.ae/en/about-the-uae/the-uae-government/government-of-future/happiness

[4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1331677X.2016.1163946

[5]  https://www.hw.gov.ae/en/download/a-guide-to-happiness-and-wellbeing-program-in-the-workplace-1 page 6

[6] https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/areasofwork/workplace-health-promotion-and-well-being/WCMS_118396/lang–en/index.htm

[7] https://www.corporatehealthandwellness.meed.com/summertown-interiors/