If your workforce is tired, grouchy and generally demotivated it is probably time to make some changes. Here are 10 ideas to help you create a sense of wellbeing at work.
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How can you help your employees to be more zen? This isn’t about hiring a workforce of Japanese monks. It’s about helping your people to be comfortable, healthy and happy. It’s about investing in staff wellbeing as a priority, and reaping the rewards.
Businesses with healthy and happy staff enjoy high levels of staff morale and productivity and, ultimately, enjoy healthy long-term profitability.
Gone are the days of businesses ruling by fear and treating staff mean to keep them keen. Millennials especially want work environments that are creative, collaborative, innovative, inclusive, joyful, diverse and thoughtful; and they want to work for companies that value teamwork, diversity, ethics and responsibility.
One way of promoting wellbeing is to have workspaces that employees can engage with and feel comfortable in. Conversely, a poorly designed workspace can quash any green shoots of creativity, good performance, engagement and innovation.
As interior design experts, Area Sq believe that good design should always be at the forefront when planning to change an office space or when moving to a new location. However, employee wellbeing should also be at the heart of a workplace… so here are 10 of our top tips to improving wellbeing, morale and productivity:
1. Know your vision and values
Your office design and fit-out brief should reflect your company’s culture and brand values. Creating a collaborative culture, with philanthropy at its core, is likely to be well received by staff. Having brand values that dripped down from a lofty boardroom decades ago are less likely to be respected.
Engage with employees before writing your brief – to get an insight into current wellbeing levels and feedback on how to boost them through the roof. Greater collaboration also enables people to be masters of their destiny, and ensures less resistance to change.
2. Work smarter
Maximise your workspace by undertaking due diligence around how it is being used now and how it might be used better in the future. Review the workspace from the perspective of the senses.
And look at workflows and patterns, sizes and locations of teams, desk ratios, use of technology and meeting rooms, facilities for mobile workers and provision of support/recreational spaces. A workspace that sounds, looks, feels and smells great, and reflects the individuality of the people in it, while meeting business needs, will be more efficient and morale-boosting.
Does your office flow or go round and round in circles?
3. See the light
Bring the great outdoors inside. Workers who have outside views are likely to be up to 25% more productive and process calls 12% faster, according to World Green Building Council research. Exposure to natural light increases productivity by 18% and better lighting in general pushes up work rates by 23%.
4. Breathe easy
The Council estimates that improved air quality and ventilation increase productivity by up to 11% and thermal comfort by 3% - which doesn’t necessarily require fancy ventilation, air conditioning and heating systems, although these will help too. Humble indoor plants don’t just look nice; they also work quietly behind the scenes to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
By having plants dotted around the place and clean air circulating in your building, you’ll be contributing to the good health of your employees rather than enforcing sick building syndrome on them. No one needs to be battling headaches, eye, nose or throat irritations, dry coughs, itchy skin and fatigue on top of a busy working day. You’ll also enhance your BREEAM and SKA environmental assessment ratings.
5. Turn down the volume
Phones ringing, conversations and a general background hum can make it hard, if not impossible, for people to concentrate. Noise is an unwanted distraction and a major cause of employee dissatisfaction. The good news is that it can be easily addressed through design and furniture solutions.
Don’t put a general-use phone in the middle of an open plan office or position desks to have a constant stream of people walking past them. Do balance having open and closed spaces, have surfaces that absorb acoustics, and use furniture that reduces, rather than promotes, noise transmission.
There's no need to shout...
6. Add a splash of colour
Yellow gets the creative juices flowing, green reduces stress and promotes calmness and blue promotes focus. Introducing splashes of colour, art, greenery and bringing the outdoors indoors can all contribute to wellbeing. Get creative with water features, park benches and arboretums to give your employees spaces where they can go to feel calm and access their creativity.
7. Get fit for work
Some 45% of workers complain that they have a stressful journey to the office, according to the British Council for Offices. So why not encourage employees to get on their bike or walk to work. Not only will they avoid being stuck in rush-hour traffic, but they will also get a boost of exercise-induced happy hormones before the working day even begins.
Install cycle racks, a shower, changing room and lockers, which will also help you to increase your environmental rating. Or consider having a gym on-site or offering staff a discounted membership to a nearby gym.
8. Get your five-a-day
Keep the doctor away by helping your employees to get their five-a-day. By providing a café with healthy meal options, a juice bar, free fruit or even just somewhere for people to prepare good food, you’ll be helping them to eat well and keep their brains and bodies awake and alert. Also consider introducing break-out or relaxation areas where people can go to get away from their desks, get a change of scene, unwind or think creatively.
9. Get moving
Workers sit for an average of 8.9 hours a day, according to the Get Britain Standing campaign – for many, that’s longer than they sleep. Sitting at a desk for longer than four hours a day causes stiffness, back pain and muscular problems, and it can disrupt blood sugar levels.
Consider buying furniture to encourage people to get moving and be less sedentary. Staff who use standing or adjustable desks, sit-stand stools or chairs, and balance boards report less muscular pain, more energy and a greater focus.
Chairs are the enemy of fitness
10. Work on the move
Working nine to five, and only ever in the office, is a thing of the past for many people. Thanks to technology, people are increasingly getting their work done away from the office and at all times of the day and night. Consider offering flexible working hours and the ability to work from home, and on the move, in a bid to increase productivity.
And when people choose to work from the office, ensure your design and fit supports activity based working. Consider having a range of environments and furniture such as multi-media rooms, stand-up work stations, desks and phone booths, and ensure that they are within good range of that all-important fast wireless connection.
You can only go right by incorporating these 10 elements into your new design and fit-out. But also bear in mind that people are naturally resistant to change. You might have identified numerous wellbeing factors, carried out background research, engaged with all stakeholders and created your brief.
You might have worked with a reputable workplace consultant who has helped you get under the skin of your business, spent time understanding your culture and vision, and designed a workspace that incorporates your brand and promotes that all-important sense of wellbeing.
And yet some staff might not be fully on board with you – yet. The important thing now is to feel confident that your process has been wholly-collaborative and that your changes are for the greater good. Hold your nerve. It won’t be long now before your dreams of workplace wellbeing nirvana come true.
Wellbeing is fundamental to productivity and will impact on your overall business results. At Area Sq, we believe there are no hard and fast rules; it’s about looking at the space, furniture, the finishes, your values and the human and physical boundaries. We like to work in partnership, understand your needs, nurture and explore ideas and encourage the communication of workspace change to all stakeholders.