Health & Wellbeing In The Workplace
My highlight of our time at Clerkenwell was the "Designing for wellbeing in the workplace: how can designers create workplaces for conflicting modes and needs?" talk hosted by self-confessed design geek Katie Treggiden in the beautiful Desso showroom.
Katie was joined by a host of industry experts and the talk began with some scary statistics. The typical office workplace is having such a negative effect on the health of the employees that up to 27 days of productivity can be lost per employee per year in companies with high-stress levels and a low level of activity, this, in turn, is costing employers £1,500 per year per employee. Sitting for up to 6 hours a day is being branded as dangerous for your health as smoking!
Well networked and armed with multiple devices, today’s professional is always connected but admittedly stressed, as the hazy line between personal and professional life continues to fade and the pressures of each impinge on the other. But research confirms that a work environment focused on wellness, with real opportunities for engagement and wellbeing, can make a difference to mitigate stress, improve health, focus attention, and increase productivity.
Mindfulness as a practice was outside the box when first introduced to the General Mills workforce in 2006. But it delivered positive results, and some of the nation’s most successful companies quickly took the cue—Google in 2007, Aetna in 2010, Intel in 2012. Include Ford, Goldman Sachs, Adobe, Target, Davos, and countless other successful organizations in the mix.
Improving the health and well-being in the office environment is one of the biggest challenges we face as designers. It is our job as designers to understand and plan for how the spaces we create will impact on the users. Often clients are driven by budgets and benefits such as outdoor areas, green walls, and sit/stand desks are seen as luxuries and will often be sacrificed in place of more 'essential' necessities such as desk numbers and storage.
The panel were all agreed that unless the business leaders were on board with promoting the wellbeing and health of their employees that this will be forgotten and neglected. This is a movement that really must come from the top down. The panel suggested if a business is losing £1,500 per year per employee then times this amount by the number of employees and there you have your wellbeing budget!
So how can we all make an instant improvement to our own work well-being and health?
Bring some plants into the office - this improves the air quality and even the colour green or photographs of plants and natural environments have been proven to have a positive effect on people's mental health and boost people's moods.
Take frequent breaks to move around - walk to the printer or visit someone in another department and talk to them rather than sending an email.
Drink more water - Very few of us achieve the recommended water intake each day so challenge yourself to drink more. Tie this into moving around more by swapping a big bottle with a small glass which you will need to walk to the tap more frequently to fill.
Break away from the desk - have a walking meeting or head to the local park at lunch time. While at Clerkenwell we had great fun trying out a fabulous range of products from BuzziSpace. The BuzziBalance range offer stools and balance boards which activate your core muscles and help keep you more alert - these are a perfect option for a brainstorming session or a quick meeting whilst waking up your muscles and getting you out of your seat. (http://buzzi.space/buzzibalance/)
Office Dog - We have recently introduced an office dog to the employees of Office Image for the occasional day a week as it has been proven to reduce stress, attract and retain staff, and provoke happiness.
Here at Office Image our team includes some very keen cyclists, runners and there is some healthy FitBit step count competitions happening! We are also guilty of spending too much time sat at our desks so we too making some improvements. We are going to invest in some more plants (alongside our cactus collection), introduce a fresh fruit day each week and we are eagerly awaiting our new Sven Christiansen sit / stand desks.