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Blue Monday: How your workplace affects wellbeing

With over half of employees saying that their working environment has a negative effect on their mental health[1], Linda Hausmanis, CEO of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) urges organisations to utilise their workplace and facilities practitioners and use Blue Monday to give their workplaces a health check.

Wherever we work, the culture, technology and workspace all impact our wellbeing. If they are not fit for purpose, this not only impacts on our physical and mental health but affects an organisation’s overall productivity and performance.

Organisations must tune in to the ways different parts of a workspace influence people. Work related stress and anxiety is the leading cause of office absences in the UK; much of this influenced by the environments we work in day in, day out. Which is why we’re starting to see sectors, such as the real estate industry, recognising that wellbeing is integral to their investment strategies.

This Blue Monday, we urge businesses to reflect on three practical ways they can establish workplace excellence:

  1. Listen to employees’ practical needs

Workplace excellence starts from the ground up. Modern working life is demanding; employees increasingly require workplaces that give them a certain level of flexibility.

Organisations should take the opportunity to review their office layouts and identify unused spaces – could these be changed to align better with organisational culture i.e. shower room, meditation room, or gym?

It is also true that employees’ practical needs stretch further than their physical workspaces, therefore workplace and facilities professionals are central to enabling this.

For example, food and nutrition play a key role in employees’ health and wellbeing. We’re seeing more businesses appointing specific Wellness Managers to focus on ensuring that businesses view the impact of their workplace holistically.

  1. Create productive workspaces

This is a critical factor for many employees’ mental wellbeing. Businesses ought to have a range of spaces available for employees to use during a working day and encourage them to make the most of these. Break out spaces, that allow staff to wind down, can help to build rapport and team culture while quiet spaces help to mitigate stress, providing clear areas for employees to focus or have necessary privacy. The key here is balance; what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another.

Walking meetings are becoming increasingly popular; offering employees the chance to get out of the office and into daylight whilst increasing their activity levels. This has the added benefit of freeing up meeting room space, which is often a point of frustration for many employees.

Blue Monday is a good opportunity to encourage workers to leave their desks. In the winter months, many fail to make the most of outside spaces and see little daylight, affecting mood and productivity. Organised events such as the rubber duck treasure hunt running today at Watford’s Croxley Park are a great way to encourage workers to make the most of their outside spaces.

Workplace and Facilities Managers can also encourage regular use of outside spaces by providing resources such as maps of the local area, umbrellas and overshoes to encourage healthy habits and walking meetings.

  1. Embrace common goals 

Sustainability and social values are important factors for people choosing where to work. As agents for change in their organisations, workplace and facilities professionals ought to be driving forward ways in which office spaces can adapt, with the aim of becoming more productive and sustainable.

As well as actually reducing energy use and waste, communicating sustainability commitments promotes a common shared goal between organisations, their employees and stakeholders.

Blue Monday ought to serve as a clear reminder to organisations that workplaces, too, require regular health checks. Workplace and facilities professionals have the levers to create an amazing workplace experience to provide healthier environments which will boost employee productivity and satisfaction.

[1] https://WorkplaceInsight.net/working-environment-not-time-of-the-year-has-most-negative-effect-on-staff-wellbeing/

About Sarah OBeirne


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