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Getting inside wellbeing

If you run a business and employ people, staff wellbeing should be your top priority. If you fail to give it the attention it deserves, morale, productivity and your profitability is likely to suffer. But what defines wellbeing and why is it so important to consider this prior to undertaking an office design and fit-out? FMJ investigates

Staff wellbeing is one of the buzzwords for the twenty-first century FM. KPIs, sustainability, wellbeing. One of those things that no-one questions the importance of, even if they are a little vague over exactly what it is they are supporting. But what exactly constitutes wellbeing how can FMs reap its benefits? We spoke to experts from across the industry to find out.

Gary Chandler, managing director of Area Sq defines wellbeing as being a “combination of the physical, personal, social, cultural and economic effects of the workplace on its employees. Dictionaries simply define it as ‘welfare’, we like to think of wellbeing as a state of mind – it allows you to be who or what you want to be – a platform for inner-effectiveness.”

Wellbeing-Feature-Feb15-1BUT HOW DO YOU MAKE THE MOST OF IT?
“To enable wellbeing to thrive, it’s important to have workspaces your employees can engage with and feel comfortable in. A poorly-designed workspace can inhibit creativity, performance, engagement and innovation. So if you’re planning to move to a new location or simply change your office space, be aware of the wellbeing triggers and how to incorporate them into your design and fit-out. We believe there are 10 elements:

Know your vision and values. Does your office design and fit-out brief reflect your company’s culture and brand values? Engage with employees before writing a brief – it gives an insight into current wellbeing levels and feedback on how to enhance them.

Work smarter. In order to maximise the workspace, undertake due diligence so you know how it’s being used now and how it can work more efficiently in the future. Consider everything such as workflows and patterns, sizes and locations of teams, desk ratios, use of technology and meeting rooms, facilities for mobile workers and provision of support/recreational spaces.

A room with a view. World Green Building Council research suggests workers who have outside views are likely to be up to 25 per cent more productive and process calls 12 per cent faster. Exposure to natural light increases productivity by 18 per cent and better lighting in general pushes up work rates by 23 per cent.

Support systems. The Council estimates improved air quality and ventilation increase productivity by up to 11 per cent and thermal comfort by three per cent. Even plants have a role to play – they absorb carbon dioxide and
release oxygen.

Noise, acoustics and privacy. Noise is an unwanted distraction and a major cause of employee dissatisfaction, yet it can be easily addressed through design and furniture solutions.

Put some colour in your life. Colour, art, greenery and outdoor space are all wellbeing contributors.

Fit for work. The British Council for Offices says 45 per cent of workers complain they have a stressful journey to the office. Reduce those stress levels by encouraging exercise through cycle racks, a shower, changing room and lockers.

Five a day. Provide a breakfast or juice bar, somewhere to prepare food, a daily fruit bowl or discounted gym membership at lunchtime.

Ergonomics. Get Britain Standing reports workers sit for an average of 8.9 hours per day. Sitting at a desk for longer than four hours a day causes stiffness, back pain and muscular problems, and it can disrupt blood sugar levels. Staff using standing or adjustable desks, sit stand stools or chairs and balance boards report less muscular pain, more energy and a greater focus.

On the move. For most workers, there is no nine-to-five, technology and constantly being connected, has put paid to rigid working hours and a set work place. Flexibility to work from home, on the move or in an office is crucial so ensure the design and fit-supports activity based working.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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