Wellbeing in the workplace isn’t just a hot topic: with more and more employers seeing the benefit to their bottom line, it’s a subject that’s going to be increasingly important to businesses who want to attract and keep good people.
Whether you already are or are planning to invest in your workplace, our need-to-know guide is quick reminder that your investment will be well-rewarded, or may be just thing you need to convince the bean counters of the real value of a workplace built around wellbeing…
Google is well known for having off-the-wall workplaces. Facebook’s Menlo Park California HQ is a series of spacious bullpens designed to reflect the company’s ethos of openness and is the result of likes (feedback!) from staff. YouTube’s HQ, also in California, is a fun factory designed around big, open floor plans and employee perks that include putting greens, free roam Segway tracks, gaming and swimming facilities.
But you don’t have to be a big name in IT to realise the benefits of building a space around your people that enhances what they do. It’s good for all kinds of business. People are infinitely more productive when they’re happier at work – and for many reasons.
The World Green Building Council agrees, stating that ‘the design of an office has a material impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants’. Their 2014 report on health, wellbeing and productivity reveals that distracting noise can cause a 66% drop in performance and there’s 35% less short term sick leave in offices with airflow from outdoors. Productivity is increased by 11% when there’s improved air quality and temperature extremes can cause a 10% reduction in performance. It’s not hard to see how clean air and light levels are connected to sickness, absence and performance.
So where do you start? All well designed workplaces consider, layout, ergonomics, aesthetic design and most importantly, the wellbeing of the end user. The advantages are…
Makes a Great First Impression
Wellbeing can be a key differentiator in the war for talent. An interesting, well-designed workplace can swing the decision for new hires who have their pick of employers. So investing in your workplace is a key indicator to new staff about how you treat your team, and gives them a real insight into what their working day will look like.
The Health & Safety Executive estimates around 11 million days are lost a year because of stress at work. In 2015-16, stress accounted for 45% of all working days lost. So there’s a really solid, bottom line reason for minimising stress in any way possible. If you have the right workplace environment, you have great foundations to build on.
According to some, sitting is the new smoking. It seems our sedentary workplace practices are not conducive to wellbeing, which isn’t good news in terms of physical or mental health. A workplace that flows encourages movement. Plus, a workplace that encourages people to move around also…
A workspace that flows gives people different spaces in which to easily move into different work modes. This both enhances creativity and productivity by both enabling collaboration and facilitating focused work in quieter, more private areas. It’s also really interesting, for example, that modern break rooms aren’t hidden down a corridor and behind a door – they’re now spaces that are more central and premium, and often the parts of the building that have the best light or the best view.
At a time when UK productivity remains stubbornly poor, experts, employers and office designers are increasingly agreed that thinking of their people not as units of production but in terms of the whole person, and building working environments around them, is a way to maximise productivity that has few or no downsides. This is backed up by the new WELL Building Standard, a system for measuring, certifying and monitoring how building features that impact health and wellbeing.
Companies in knowledge businesses need their people to be both relaxed and inspired: comfortable with where they are and confident in bringing their ideas to work. Creating the right ambience is key. And key to that is colour: the right colours – and certain shapes – can leverage the cultural associations that can give people cues to feeling more open and positive. Spatially, curves are more friendly, organic and pleasant, putting people more at ease and inspiring both conversation and creation.
Donna Hayman, Sales and Marketing Director of James Tobias, says:
“Good designers and architects know all too well that they’re designing not just environments but experiences, and those experiences also design behaviour, so it’s key to get it right. Making best use of space not only makes for a cleaner work environment but a healthier one too, one that people feel comfortable in and where they can do their best work”.