Recent years have seen a huge surge in positive attitudes towards workplace wellbeing; an increasing number of businesses recognising that employees must feel well, mentally and physically, in order to produce great work. However, it could be the case that a business is too slow to adopt a focus on wellbeing; understanding the benefits and using them, may just the edge that the organisation needs to get ahead.

You may have seen massive companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter praised constantly for their take on 'workplace culture';comfortable working areas, on-site fitness suites and restaurants all being part of their 'campuses' that everyone would like to work at.

But what about the 'smaller' companies? How can a growing business in the south east of England ever hope to match the effectiveness that these massive multinational corporations have on their employees? Placing workplace wellbeing at the heart of their office designs do not have to be on a scale with these massive companies to produce the same effects...

Why you should place workplace wellbeing at the heart of your office design

If you run your own business and have been looking at improving the design of your office to get the best out of your employees,focusing on wellbeing does not have to be costly. In fact, even a minimal investment can produce great results. Which include:

  • An increase in motivation and productivity. Employees who feel healthy in body and mind will be able to perform better as they will have more energy, be less distracted and as a result, be more efficient.
  • Brings people together, building morale. Teamwork is important in any workplace;having a team that is truly together and works hard for each other will always produce positive results. Placing a focus on employee wellbeing will create genuine teamwork, giving everyone a shared purpose, cultivating camaraderie, building a great company culture.
  • Lowers stress. It can probably go without saying that stress is a natural by-product of work; we all want to give our best and to achieve great things.The nature of work being difficult means that this it isn't always possible,though. This makes us anxious and upset, creating more problems rather than solving them. Workplace wellbeing,in the form of healthy eating, fitness and mindfulness can help to reduce stress.

So how would you go about reaping these benefits exactly?

Encouraging your office wellness goals

It might slightly presumptuous to think that every staff member will buy into any initiative that you roll out. If they don't engage with your wellness programme, then the investment you make will be wasted. The best thing to do is to have a strategy in mind beforehand; suggesting ideas to your team and receiving feedback. After all, they are the ones that have to work in the environment for 7+ hours a day, 5 days a week; shouldn't they have a big say in how they'd like to work?

Here is our guide of some of the initiatives you should put to your staff, to form your workplace wellbeing strategy:

Office design for productivity

People are able to work better in a space that has been designed to promote productivity and to minimise distractions. The key is to encourage your employees to take a sense of balance with their workdays.Instead of having them multitask, doing numerous jobs at once, getting a singlejob done at once will be a far more productive use of their time. Also, during particularly stressful times, encouraging them to take regular breaks away from their desks (perhaps to a breakout room, or a seating area outside) will ensure that they are refreshed and refocused to tackle their work.

In terms of the office facilities, often, poor or outdated lighting installations are the cause of fatigue and headaches; using more natural light and modern LED systems (that can mimic the level of light outside) can help to vastly cut down on this. Brain function can also be simulated by the use of colours and images of nature on the walls.

Other ways productivity can be increased, include:

  • The introduction of collaborative spaces will encourage creativity, and also make for great team building.All that's required is an area of the office to be given over to comfortable seating and tables, where people can throw their ideas together and chat, away from the often-stressful and creativity-sapping work arena.
  • Flexible working hours are being adopted by more businesses than ever before. As everyone will have different demands on their life; from family commitments to health appointments, being able to organise their life better, can only lead to better workplace wellbeing. When they do get to work, they'll be doing so with the peace of mind that any of their external worries have been dealt with and so their full concentration will be on the work in hand. No stress, no burnout, just 100% dedication to their work.
  • Remote working is also on the rise; the availability of flexible technology and high-speed internet making this possible. In a similar vein to flexible working hours, an employee may choose a single day every week to work from home, where they can better relax and concentrate on their work.

Office design for fitness & nutrition

For the uninitiated, it may seem a little strange talking about 'fitness in the workplace'; this is stuff we're supposed to do outside of work, right? If we think about the amount of time we spend at work during the week, we are likely to come to the conclusion that we spend more of our time at (or preparing for) work than we do on any other activity, bar sleep (although some people do not spend enough time doing that either!) Being healthy and fit is vital for our lives, and as we spend most of our lives working, it makes absolute sense to be healthy and fit for it.

This doesn't mean that your workplace has to heavily invest in gym and spa facilities or pay a yoga instructor to come in a few times a week.Encouraging people to be healthier could include something as simple as taking walks around the office to communicate with people in person instead of by phone, introducing a well-equipped kitchen area for them to prepare and store food, you can even arrange for discounted memberships with a local health club.

In terms of nutrition, it can be so easy for the average office to gorge upon fast, often-unhealthy food; many of our workplaces are in the middle of town/city centres, after all. The nature of work may mean that people will feel too busy to actually leave their desk to prepare themselves something, so they end up snacking on unhealthy foods and copious amounts of caffeine to provide them with the energy boost they need to get through the day. Obviously, this isn’t healthy and will eventually play into how they are able to perform their duties at work, so how can a business encourage healthy eating? Here are some tips on healthy eating for workplace wellbeing:

  • Providing healthy snacks, such as fruit and nuts, is a great alternative to installing a vending machine full of sugary snacks. The great thing about providing such items (aside from them being healthy) is that they do not cost much to acquire. Without sounding tactless, anything that an employee can get for free will be eagley snapped up; make that free snack a healthy one, and you'll reap the benefits!
  • Sharing lunches is not only a great way to 'spread the bug' of healthy eating, it also helps to bring people together. Maybe once a month, give over your work kitchen or breakout room to an employee who makes lunch for everyone (under the proviso that it's healthy!)
  • Ordering out for lunch does not have to be all about sandwiches, pizzas, coffees or any other calorie-heavy fast food. Maybe once a month, think about ordering in some healthy lunches for staff; a great way to bring the team together and to get them to eat well.

Office design for de-stressing and emotional wellness

How employees think and feel will have a direct impact on their work; everything from their productivity, creativeness and their ability to function in a team is affected. Promoting positive mental health should be important in every factor of our lives; as we spend most of it at work, it's important for the office to make concessions for it too.

Here are some ways you can cater to emotional workplace wellbeing:

  • We've already mentioned breakout rooms quite a bit in this blog already; they are areas in the office (away from the working areas) that have been set aside for people to take breaks in, in order for them to de-stress or even to conduct informal meetings and collaboration sessions. The makeup of your ideal breakout room will, of course, vary on what you want out of it; it may just be the equivalent of a 'soft play area' in which comfy couches and beanbags take the stress from people, it may have a television or numerous games in – some even have a bar. The fundamental point to remember with a breakout room is that it must act as a sanctuary for people who may be feeling stressed, giving them the ideal environment in which to recharge. So always be sure to get everyone's views on what they would like their sanctuary to consist of.
  • As the issue of mental health is becoming more-and-more prevalent in our society, being aware of mindfulness can help people to re-focus their thoughts and cultivate a positive outlook. Mindfulness is a method of understanding how we feel, why we feel as we do and what we can do to improve. Creating an office design that lends itself well to collaboration and creating a tight-knit team is a great way to make people feel connected to their work and of course, the bespoke breakout room can provide a quiet place for people to re-focus and relax. For some great mindfulness tips, check out these from the NHS.

Improve your workplace's wellness with Oaktree Interiors

So that was our guide to workplace wellbeing. If you're interested in learning more about how you can improve the effectiveness of your team through office design,please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team here Oaktree Interiors.

With over 30 years of experience in the office fit out industry, we have seen (and built) it all! In recent years, many of the designs we have created have incorporated health and wellness at the heart of their design; do check out our case studies for further information.

To learn more about wellness in the workplace and how your company could benefit, please feel free to give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com

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