Part two – Our final thoughts about wellbeing in the workplace.

The drive for wellbeing doesn’t stop at the physical environment though. A wellness hub and regular wellness days, encourage staff to seek advice, sign up for classes or personal coaching, and monitor their progress.

I recently spoke with Tania Del Rio, a corporate wellness consultant, about how companies can help support and sustain the wellbeing of their staff. She advised that it really comes down to two things: habit-building and providing space – both physically and culturally.

Tania emphasises the importance of taking a few minutes each day to stretch, to breathe properly, to have a mental break and to eat healthily. “the effect on your mental clarity, energy levels and being able to productively focus are quite tremendous”. To embed such simple practices in our busy work days though, is often beyond our overwhelmed diaries. Therefore Tania recommends that companies create the space for their staff to discuss and support each other, for example through facilitated workshops that give people the freedom to talk about wellness, explore new ideas and take action together on wellness objectives. She recommends this continues until people have developed a “wellbeing habit”, since once something is a habit, it becomes automatic and you don’t have to think about taking the time or creating the space – it just naturally happens.

Alongside a culture of wellness, Tania agrees that the physical environment is paramount, citing light, nature, air quality and ergonomic comfort as the key factors. These are echoed by The Well Institute, whose research has revealed that the physical workspace is one of the top three factors affecting performance and job satisfaction. They advocate an holistic approach to staff wellbeing, considering the factors of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

When embarking on a workplace strategy or workspace design, the Stack team are highly motivated to create healthier work environments that support staff wellbeing. Encouraging people to change posture and move around throughout the day, rather than sitting hunched at their desk, is one of the many benefits of our Reality Based Work approach. Maximising the penetration of natural light into the space, careful attention to lighting, and the incorporation of plants are also part of our standard approach. These factors were all featured in our recently completed project for AA Insurance’s new HQ in Auckland.

 

                                                                    

For AA Insurance, we conceived the layout to ensure that all staff, no matter where they sit, benefit from the magnificent views of Auckland and the Harbour. Movement and attention to posture is encouraged through the provision of electric sit-to-stand desks for all staff, lines of sight throughout the floorplates to encourage people to go talk to each other face-to-face rather than just emailing their neighbour, and the installation of an open, connecting staircase between the three floors.

We understand the importance of social interaction and connectedness, as well as ensuring a space responds to the different ways of working that people require. For AAI, this meant the provision of a large central café, divided into two areas: the first, a mainly social, open, noisy space for gathering together; the second, a more discrete, quieter area designed to encourage quiet re-charging, or small intimate meetings.  The chill out zone adjacent to the contact centre ensures that contact centre staff can easily take a couple of minutes to gather themselves after tough calls, or other staff can gravitate there to do some focus work away from their desks. The provision of a high-energy (and sound isolated) games room caters to those who need some action to re-energise. All of these aspects form part of creating a healthy work environment that supports employee wellbeing.

The Stack team are highly motivated to create healthier work environments that support staff wellbeing get in touch for a chat over a coffee. 

An article by Lara Stancich, STACK Workplace Strategy and Design Specialist – currently based in Italy.

 

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