4 ways to incorporate Wellbeing into your Workspace
James alberts - J&A Blinds design scheme
A workplace that truly supports the well- being of its occupants must go beyond just protecting their physical health. In this section we offer suggestions for achieving well-being by taking a holistic approach that addresses physical and psychological health and well-being in the workplace
Design to improve mental health
Numerous factors increase stress levels. Lack of control over work process and workspace, enclosed and poorly lit spaces, plus noise and interruptions in concentration are some key contributors to stress. Some ways to address this in the workplace include the following:
Increase the availability of user control
over the workspace
Fundamentally, environmental control is about giving people the workplace design, furnishings, technology, and a policy that provide choice over how to work, as opposed to being limited by the space or corporate policies. Environmental control can contribute numerous benefits, including group effectiveness, employee engagement, job satisfaction, and group cohesiveness
- Specify flexible task lighting so that the individual can control brightness and position of lighting source.
- Ensure workplace flexibility through adjustable furnishings, such as seating, adjustable height desks, shelving and display.
- Create a variety of individual, group, and social interaction spaces that let employees choose the workspace size, type, furnishings, and technology that fit their immediate work needs
Introduce Biophilia into the workspace
The concept of introducing planting and natural materials into a design scheme is a simple fix, humans have an innate need to connect with nature physically and mentally, and socially after all don’t we all enjoy a picnic In the park? Planting, greenery and warm natural finishes can positively affect well-being, productivity, and staff engagement. Those who work in environments that incorporate these elements & daylight and views outside, report a 15 percent higher level of well-being than those who work in sterile environments
Simply adding plants in the workplace can have a profound effect on the improvement of mental health at work, not to mention improving air quality and alleviating respiratory issues
- Ensure workstations and collaborative areas have a view to the outside
- Incorporate plants into the design of the space
- Design using natural materials and patterns that evoke nature
- Create open plan areas to address people’s affinity for wide, open spaces
Have large format murals of natural habitats or stylised natural habits can also trick the mind into the calm feeling that nature brings
Promote changing postures and movement within the space over the course of the workday
Giving people the option of sitting or standing throughout the day, or allowing them to move from their desk to maybe a hot desk, an informal meeting / camp fire space or even the coffee shop. Research shows that continuous variation is better than short periods of exercise, such as gym workouts at the beginning or end of the day
- Incorporate height-adjustable desks into the space
- Encourage staff to use the stairs rather than just taking the lift. In the current climate this is
- Strategically place water dispensers, photocopiers, vending machines, and other amenities to encourage walking between areas
- Promote movement by developing walking routes and encouraging walking meetings and standing meetings, you may be surprised it changes the dynamic and energy
- Consider implementing activity-based settings / policies where people are free to move to their workspace of choice according to the needs of the task
Research shows that sounds from nature, such as birdsong or rippling water, promote faster recovery from stressful tasks compared with traffic and ambient building noise, such as air-conditioning equipment.15 Additional research suggests that using pleasant sounds from natural environments to mask background workplace noise could decrease employee stress and increase worker productivity.16
Noise distractions, however, pose challenges that can be addressed through both design and policy. The following four person- centred acoustic principles can be used to design various spaces with differing acoustics and to clearly communicate expectations for how to use those space. Provide both informal collaboration spaces and spaces that provide quiet. Make it easy to distinguish between these types of spaces (e.g., café spaces for breakout meetings versus phone-free desk areas resembling a library setting) and make these spaces accessible. Some employers may even want to allow people to work externally, especially in the current climate home or the coffeeshop
- Avoid noise distraction – E.g no hands-free speaker phones in areas where people need to concentrate. Also, locate noisier teams apart from quieter teams. Since team members are more tolerant of noise from their team members, be sure to co-locate them with like minded individuals. Typically accounts staff will require quiet and sales staff are happy to function in a hubbub as anyone will realise that has visited a recruitment office
- Reduce noise distraction – Manage density and acoustics. Lower density areas produce less noise. Acoustical devices (e.g., natural soundscapes) reduce speech intelligibility and noise transference across spaces and between rooms by installing acoustic screens / rafts and acoustic bags above ceiling tiles
- Educate employees – Communicate policies and design choices that foster consideration among colleagues.
This helps employees understand expectations for what type of work and noise is appropriate in differing workspaces and how to control noise distractions for themselves and others.