Wellbeing might be the buzzword of the minute, but what does “wellbeing in the workplace” actually mean, and how does it really affect you and your employees?
Here in the UK we work the longest days in Europe, a whopping 42.5 hours a week on average. With employees spending so much of their time in the office, it’s inevitable that the surrounding environment will influence their physical and mental health.
Not only are happy, healthy employees more productive, they are also much more likely to stay in the organization, and become true ambassadors for your business amongst clients, peers and potential contacts, if they feel valued and supported at work.
We’ve put together our top five simple changes you could make in your office environment to ensure your team feel excited + engaged in the workplace:
Ask your team where their happy place is, and I can guarantee you no two people will give you the same answer, so it stands to reason that our work happy places (the space we each feel most comfortable and productive) will be equally diverse. Optimizing your workplace for such a mix of people, personalities and working styles can be a minefield – particularly if you haven’t paid much attention to your office environment before.
Our workplace consultants will work with you to understand your business needs and tailor your office space accordingly. We design spaces that not only provide the right environment for staff to be productive, but that actively engages them throughout the working day and makes them excited to come to work.
Quick Fix: Do your employees feel comfortable using different spaces for different tasks? You might not have the space or the budget to redesign your whole office, but are there current spaces that can be better utilized to provide employees a choice of environments? Are they able to hold meetings offsite or work from different locations once or twice a week to offer a bit of variety? That small element of choice and control in the week can make a big difference in employee empowerment, stress reduction and productivity.
We read a new study almost daily showcasing evidence that a connection with nature makes us happier and healthier people – but how do we build this when we spend much of our week tied to our desks?
Biophilic design incorporates natural features to help us connect with the great outdoors whilst spending time indoors and is thought to provide a whole host of benefits to your workforce, including stress reduction, improved air quality, and increased productivity and creativity.
Quick Fix: If installing brand new skylights and living walls stretches beyond your budget, try to look at your current space with a fresh perspective. Have windows providing much-needed natural daylight been blocked over time by bulky furniture, or people piling files on the ledge? Is your token office plant hidden in the corner, and looking decidedly worse-for-wear as no-one ever remembers to water it? Is there sufficient lighting in the darker corners of your office? Can a well-placed lamp or pot plant improve the ambience? What about wallpaper designed to bring the outside in? Are employees encouraged to get outside and go for a walk on breaks?
We’ve already touched on the importance of natural daylight, and good quality artificial light for the darker areas of your space, but it’s also key to think about the colour scheme in your office beyond just the introduction of your brand colours. All colours have a psychological value, meaning that they can stimulate different emotions so it’s worth thinking about the areas you want to introduce colour and the different ways you can do this. For example, blue is known to be calming and serene, so warm, bright shades could be used to encourage relaxation in social areas such as break rooms. Dark blues could have the opposite effect, creating feelings of oppression or sadness so accents need to be used sparingly.
Quick Fix: You don’t need to pick up the paintbrush to inject colour – although statement walls and graphics are one quick and easy fix. Think about furniture, art and other finishes that might refresh your space and positively impact employees’ moods. Greenery also helps, plants are proven to boost productivity and feelings of wellbeing.
When your rent depends on your square footage, it can be tempting to squeeze your business into the smallest possible space – particularly if your business is rapidly expanding and your employee headcount is increasing week-on-week, but high density workplaces mean less personal space, more noise and more distractions – therefore unhappy, unproductive employees.
Our workplace consultants are experts at space planning and can ensure your office is designed to make the most of your current space and futureproofed for your growth plans.
Quick Fix: If your office is bursting at the seams but you’re unable to move to a larger premise, it may be time to consider agile working. Hot desks, mobile working, collaborative areas can all reduce the need for physical square footage, while increasing employee’s interactivity and connectivity within the workplace and beyond.
However you dress it up, there’s no getting away from the fact that office workers spend the majority of their day sitting down, staring at a screen, so at the very least need to have an ergonomic workspace that is tailored to their individual health needs in order to maximize their wellbeing and productivity.
Active office furniture encourages employees to introduce some movement into their day. Standing desks, treadmill desks, exercise ball chairs, desk-bikes and balance boards are just some of the furniture items that could be introduced to try and tap into the myriad of health benefits that come with moving more.
Quick Fix: What are your rules on internal emails? Can you encourage employees to walk to other people’s desk to ask questions, rather than sending an email or picking up the phone? This approach gets bonus points too as it encourages face-to-face human contact, another big winner when it comes to wellbeing. Can you run an internal competition to see who can do the most steps in the day, or perhaps move the kettle slightly further away?
Of course, employee wellbeing is just one of the many factors you need to take into consideration when looking at your office environment. We create exciting + engaging workplaces designed to promote wellbeing + boost productivity within your team – talk to us today to find out how we can do this for you!