A fit, healthy and happy workforce is a productive workforce; one that’s motivated to perform well, and has the energy and commitment to do their best.
Creating a high performing team involves several different factors. Leadership, culture, management processes, recruitment, employee engagement etc. are all important components. Employee wellbeing underpins all of these things; ensuring that staff are fit for work and able to perform at their best.
Many employers have adopted strategies to promote healthier workplaces, for example by providing fresh fruit and healthy snacks, corporate gym memberships or by running a social sports club. But the workspace itself may hold many of the solutions for a fitter, healthier workforce.
Unfortunately, some offices are undermining our health. We all know that sitting at a desk for long periods of time is bad for us, but many office workers have no alternative. Similarly, there is growing evidence that working at a screen in an artificially lit office depresses the body’s natural rhythms, reducing alertness and may contribute to depressive conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Many people work in this kind of environment.
So, while you may be deploying strategies for increasing productivity, performance and workplace satisfaction, your office environment could be undoing them.
Our approach when designing office refits or office relocations is to put health and staff wellbeing at the heart of the office design. We want to create workplaces that energise the people using them, promote health and are great places to work. So, we focus on the following areas that will have an impact on your employees’ health and happiness:
The office layout can become an antidote to our sedentary lives when we ensure there are reasons and opportunities to move about. Simple measures such as moving desktop printers away from your employees’ workstations can ensure they need to get up and moving every time they need to print something.
But you can do more by providing your team with alternatives to the traditional desk and chair set up. Standing desks in key strategic areas of the office allow employees to vary the way they work, improve their posture and burn more calories. Using a standing desk burns 50 more calories an hour than sitting.
Studies have shown that exposure to natural light increases workplace productivity and employees’ quality of life. Crucially working in environments with no natural light, or predominately artificial light, has been shown to cause sleep disorders and this has a detrimental effect on performance and wellbeing.
Therefore, when designing the layout of an office it is important to ensure that everyone has access to natural light, for as much of the working day as possible. If natural light is limited in your building, consider what areas of the office are occupied for the most amount of time and what has less traffic. Then locate under occupied areas in the parts of the building with less access to natural light.
Meeting rooms are often only used for a short amount of time, and not necessarily by the same individuals, and so these are a good choice to locate away from natural light. Glass panels or walls can add ambient light and integrate these areas into the overall office design.
Poor air quality has also been found to affect performance and health. In 2015 researchers at Harvard looked at how decision-making skills were affected by pollutants in the office environment and found that cognitive scores were 101 percent higher in buildings with low carbon dioxide levels and lower pollutants.
While you may not be able to relocate your office away from busy roads and other sources of pollutants, there are ways to improve the air quality inside the office. Good ventilation, whether from open windows or air conditioning, will circulate and refresh the air; however internal pollutants should also be kept to a minimum. Sources of pollutants such as photocopy machines should be located away from people and air intakes, and good housekeeping will keep on top of dust and fibres.
Creating a greener office will also improve the air quality and the health of your staff. Many houseplants have a positive impact on air quality, removing toxins and pumping out oxygen. Plants such as Chrysanthemum mortifolum (Garden Mum), Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant), Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree), and Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig), have all been found to have air-purifying properties.
If you would like to explore in more detail how you can improve the health and wellbeing of your staff through a more creative approach to office design, get in touch with our team. Call 01344 290290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.