Rebecca Fairfield, Head of Key Accounts at BRITA VIVREAU shares some of the key findings of recent research on the return to the office, including top tips for boosting staff morale and wellbeing
As we enter the Autumn, the majority of workers are keen for their work life to return largely to the way it was pre-pandemic. In fact, the BRITA VIVREAU H2O – Home to Office report found that over three quarters want to return to the workplace for at least some of the working week.
However, it’s important to remember that not all employees will be feeling comfortable about the news. The reintroduction of office working requires time and thought to ensure staff feel safe and happy returning to a more normal way of working, particularly for those who may have been on furlough for some time.
While hygiene measures are going to remain top of the agenda for many businesses for some time, it’s key that employee wellbeing and mental health is not overlooked. With poor mental health costing UK businesses £45 million every year and the demand for support services being at its highest ever rate, now is the time to support your team. This has to go beyond flexible working which has become the norm – the office itself can’t be ignored.
The research we’ve conducted reveals almost three quarters (73 per cent) of employees would be more likely to leave their job if their workspaces aren’t designed with mental health in mind, while 79 per cent agree that a well-designed office would motivate them to accept a job. At a time when many industries are struggling to recruit, this shows how crucial the office can be in both retaining staff and attracting talent.
If this wasn’t evidence enough, a recent case study from the International WELL Building Institute, revealed a company found that by redesigning a healthier office space it reduced staff turnover by 27 per cent and absenteeism was 50 per cent lower than the previous year, again highlighting just how much of an impact the office can have on morale and wellbeing.
PUT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for prompting employee happiness, by taking a people-first approach, businesses can understand and cater to their staff’s particular needs.
Our research highlighted that 82 per cent of people are looking forward to returning to the workplace for at least some of the working week with one in two (52 per cent) revealing they miss socialising with colleagues, one in five miss having access to high-quality amenities such as tea, coffee and filtered water, and 40 per cent are looking forward to having a dedicated workspace back.
However, this isn’t the case for all and some employees will be feeling disconnected from their companies as a result of such a long time apart, while others may be dreading the thought of the daily commute. This is why it’s so valuable to have open conversations with employees to help them feel heard and valued.
With this in mind, there are some simple but effective changes businesses can implement to make the move back to the office more welcoming and appealing over the coming months, focusing on areas known to affect mental health and wellbeing.
- Welcome in nature
Why not introduce plants to boost oxygen levels in the office? With a multitude of low maintenance options out there these don’t need to become additional work. Also consider natural furnishings like bamboo and cotton instead of synthetic materials and allow the light to match circadian rhythms.
- Start socialising
Create areas that encourage collaboration and social interaction, such as break out rooms or lounge areas that remind people of home. You could even ask your employees to bring in one item to help fill the space, creating a talking point as well as a place which makes your team feel relaxed.
- Get moving
Consider creating a one-way system which encourages staff to walk further to get around the office – this also ties in nicely to any social distancing measures you may want to keep initially. You could also highlight local walks and cycle paths to prompt staff to enjoy their full lunch break by getting outside. Providing showers and changing rooms for staff to use would also be a welcome introduction by helping them to use their commute to get active.
- Provide accessible comfort control
Give staff control over their surroundings with temperature controls on their desks or by offering natural ventilation, not just air conditioning. Create a sense of privacy and security too by allocating private spaces for employees to store belongings and take personal calls.
- Promote rest and relaxation
Introducing private booths will mean employees can enter a state of deep focus to allow for greater concentration on work. Create areas to promote rest and relaxation, or even encourage meditation and mindfulness.
- Boost hydration
Providing high quality amenities within offices shows employees that their physical and mental wellbeing is highly valued and, in turn, can boost productivity and enthusiasm from your teams. Water dispensers are one of the many factors which play an important role in the level of comfort and positivity people feel within their workplace. By choosing an inclusive option like BRITA VIVREAU Easy Access Panel, which caters for all accessibility needs, not only are you offering your staff top quality facilities but it can also help your organisation make a positive choice for the planet as well by eliminating single-use plastics within the office environment.
From taking inspiration from nature, to creating a workspace that caters to different working styles, the BRITA VIVREAU H2O – Home to Office report offers practical tips on how businesses can optimise their workspace and ultimately get the best out of their workforce. To find out more, you can access the report at: https://bit.ly/3meihLA