Designing A Healthy Workplace
Designing A Healthy Workplace
"Corporate wellness is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses across the globe."
In many ways, a healthy workplace is the next step in our journey to creating sustainable and environmentally friendly workplaces, which can help propel your business to the next level and keep your employees happy and performing well. When creating a healthier workplace, it’s important to think about both the subtle and obvious dimensions of wellness in corporate environments. Some of the more obvious expressions of wellness are tangible, like an employee gym or providing yoga sessions, while subtle expressions of wellness include things the employee can hear, touch, taste and smell in the workplace.
For businesses, there are some simple ways to improve wellness at work that can be incorporated in subtle and obvious ways. Here are my tips on designing a healthier workplace:
Provide different settings in the environment that encourage people to sit, stand and move throughout their day. Buy the best quality ergonomic chairs you can afford, and make sure all furniture settings support people’s posture, especially when using mobile technologies. Seventies style bean bags no longer cut it! Most quality furniture suppliers will also come and give your staff a lesson on ergonomics and how to adjust their chairs to encourage good posture. Providing staff with a page of simple stretches to do at intervals throughout the day is also useful and promotes good circulation.
Provide support spaces that give people the opportunity to be active while at their place of work. Encourage people to take the stairs and walk to meetings instead of getting the lift or taking taxis. You could even consider standing meetings, including a treadmill for slow walking while using the phone or providing wearable devices for staff to encourage healthy competition via a weekly ‘most steps taken’ competition. Digital music services such as Spotify can be used to play background music that is mentally stimulating and de-stressing.
Providing a healthy food offering to clients and staff supports a healthy lifestyle and improves overall wellbeing. No matter how small your catering budget is, you can always provide fruit, nuts, sushi and other healthy items for gatherings, events and meetings rather than cakes, sweets and biscuits. Healthy food is ‘brain food’ and feeds the mind as well as the body.
No matter how small, creating a working environment that is an ecosystem of interrelated zones and settings provides users with a range of spaces that support their various work modes. A variety of spaces is important – including quiet, collaborative, individual, playful, social and focused areas. These can be created with mobile screens, curtains, or furniture settings, and don’t necessarily have to be hard walls. Choice is both mentally and physically stimulating and promotes autonomy amongst teams and individuals.
Access to natural light and quality of air is an important contributor to wellness in the workplace. Try not to build up against windows and make sure everyone has access to whatever views are available. If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor area, use it to its fullest potential! Monthly team BBQs, outdoor meetings when weather permits and encouraging staff to eat lunch outside or away from their desks, all contributes to wellness in the workplace.
Employees and visitors need to feel connected to each other. Barriers to communication should be minimised where possible and being able to easily see if people are in the workspace helps people feel connected, supported and part of a collaborative team. Decluttering the workplace also goes a long way towards providing clarity and connection in the office. Imagine working in an office so littered with paper and other paraphernalia that it is impossible to find a clear surface to collaborate!
A range of mixed presence experiences, both physical and virtual, are essential in creating a positive workplace attitude. Face-to-face communication combined with virtual channels is a way of life these days. However you don’t need expensive technology to support this. Technologies such as Skype and Google Chromebox are easily accessible and practices such as Scrum and Agile promote collaborative development of products and services.
Technology is more and more used to enable and support connection between employees and clients. There are a vast range of apps that can be used for communication, recording, and sharing of information. Greater technology also means that individuals have greater control over their own work/life balance as they have much more flexibility in how they communicate and collaborate with each other. For example, parents can drop children at school then participate in a conference call during their commute, allowing them to meet both family and work commitments and have much more control over their own time.
Team members need to feel as though they can connect with an organisation on both a cultural and social level. Creating a sense of belonging is about finding activities or events that best suit the culture of the business. It can be as simple as finishing early on a Friday to have a glass of wine together and celebrate the week’s successes. Other more social activities can include ten pin bowling, a trip to the art museum at lunchtime, sailing, or participating together in a charity or fundraising event. Feeling that they belong to a group of like-minded people helps staff develop deep long lasting relationships, and in times of stress these connections can be invaluable.