Wellbeing might seem to be a bit of a buzzword at the moment.
However, businesses aren’t necessarily taking it on board because they might think that it’s yet another office design trend. They are seeing it as something that is less of a fad and more of a necessity.
But what exactly do we mean when we talk about wellbeing in the workplace?
What is workplace wellbeing?
Workplace wellbeing covers both the physical and mental state of employees.
It’s centred on the idea that employers have the potential to influence how their staff feel about coming to work.
This can be implemented by improving work processes and creating a culture of open dialogue with staff. The layout and design of the workspace can also help to improve employee wellbeing.
There’s a tendency to get caught up in headline-grabbing solutions like the sleeping pods of Google’s, Samsung’s and NASA’s offices.
Although a recent guidance report by Public Health England does recommend that employers should implement a sleep management programme in order to boost staff productivity.
While specific solutions like this can form part of an overall wellbeing strategy, there are more fundamental aspects that should be tackled first.
A workplace wellbeing strategy
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace.
While the specifics will differ from company to company, many businesses which implement wellbeing strategies see an improvement in the performance of their workplace.
This is partly due to the fact that the lines that used to exist between live, work and play have not only blurred but almost entirely disappeared. We explored this convergence of live/work/play in our own Future Workers Video.
While many companies in the technology and creative sectors tend to focus on the play aspect of the workspace, maintaining a healthy work/life balance is just as if not more important.
But it’s not just about free fruit and yoga classes. It’s about demonstrating how a company values their people by providing support that helps them to lead a healthy life both at work and at home.
Plenty of planning needs to go into the creation of a wellbeing strategy, a lot more than we can go into here. You’ll find helpful resources and advice on the CIPD website, particularly their Health and Well-being at Work report.
The Impact of Office Design on Workplace Wellbeing
At Paramount we put a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that any wellbeing strategy that a company has in place is reflected in the design and layout of their workplace.
This can cover a number of areas.
Give staff the opportunity to control their working environment by:
- Easily regulating the temperature in the workplace
- Choosing the way they want to work from a mixture of open and closed spaces
- Providing ergonomic office furniture
Improving the physical wellbeing of staff can boost productivity and reduce staff absences. Businesses can do this by offering:
- Workspaces with plenty of natural light
- An onsite gym for staff
- Sit/stand desks
- A layout that encourages movement in the workplace
Employee’s mental wellbeing is equally important. Companies can focus on this by:
- Bringing the outdoors in with natural design elements
- Introducing plants and other biophilic design principles
- Offering areas for contemplation and relaxation
- Featuring more artwork in the workplace
The use of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things in the workplace has allowed technology to bring people together rather than push them apart, including:
- Improved Wi-Fi
- Productivity and health apps
- Biometric and environmental sensors in everything from desks to lightbulbs
- Wearable devices
- Augmented and virtual reality
- AI and machine learning
Personnel Today has an in-depth three-part guide to the future of wellbeing technology, which looks at the topic in more detail.
However, the future of wellbeing in the workplace is dependent on businesses embracing the concept.
UK businesses are lagging behind when it comes to workplace wellbeing
According to the latest 2018 Cigna 360° Well-Being Survey, the UK ranked the lowest among developed Western countries in terms of wellbeing.
Only 9% of the employees surveyed said that their organisation had a wellbeing programme.
Given that 44% of people (rising to 53% for millennials) said that the availability of a workplace wellbeing programme would sway them towards a potential employer, it can be an important tool for attracting and retaining the best people.
The good news is that employee wellbeing research conducted by Punter Southall and REBA found that wellbeing is becoming increasingly important for companies in the UK.
While less than a third of organisations in 2016 said that they had a defined wellbeing strategy in place, this had increased to almost 50%.
Their research also suggested that by the early 2020s more than three-quarters of UK companies will have a defined mental health strategy.
In fact, mental health charity, Mind Cymru, is encouraging businesses to sign up for their Workplace Wellbeing Index, which allows businesses to track their progress and access best practice learning from other businesses.
With wellbeing and mental health set firmly on the agendas of UK businesses, we expect to see it become a major focus when it comes to office design.
With this in mind, wellbeing is the featured topic in our upcoming Design Assembly event.
Design Assembly South Wales 2018: The Connected Workplace
As you might have seen, we recently announced that we’ll be hosting Design Assembly South Wales for the second year running.
It’s official! 🎉 After the success of last year’s event, we’ll be hosting Design Assembly South Wales 2018: The Connected Workplace on October 19th. Register now 👉👉 https://t.co/7p5fiLvFsP
We’ll be sharing more details soon.#DesignAssemblySW #TheConnectedWorkplace pic.twitter.com/QVbJrMnDhJ
— Paramount Interiors (@Paramount_Int) August 30, 2018
Design Assembly SW 2018 is themed around the Connected Workplace and looks specifically at how businesses can bring technology and people together in the workplace to improve employee wellbeing.
On Friday, October 19th, attendees can see CPD presentations from guest speakers, as well as meet industry experts from the world of commercial interior design and take part in a design workshop.
We’ll be sharing more details soon but you can register for free tickets right now.