Navigating the last months of lockdown before going back to the office

 

Now that lockdown restrictions are easing across the UK, businesses are fielding questions from inquisitive employees, wondering if going back to the office is imminent. While no official ‘return to work’ date has been set, many businesses are already reopening their offices, welcoming back employees in a COVIDsecure manner, adhering to government and public health guidance.

Some employees are excited for a return to the office and all that it entails, however, there are others who may feel anxious and apprehensive. Many are still juggling childcare and other situations brought about by the pandemic and others appreciate the flexibility of working from home.

So, what can companies do between now and then to ensure that their team members are as prepared as possible to return to work?

Communication is key when going back to the office

 

Comprehensive communication between management and team members is of the utmost importance during the run-up to the return to the office. Leaders need to keep team members informed of all return to work developments – big or small – and what steps are being taken to ensure that all employees will be kept safe.

Holding 1-1 sessions with team members provides an opportunity to openly air any concerns and ask questions about coming back to the workplace, related to each individual’s circumstances. Having open, clear communication with employees strengthens trust in the company and trust in decision makers having a sound return to work plan.

Management tools such as The Change Curve model can support the forthcoming transition back to the office. By working through the uncertainty of the past year and acknowledging the concerns that the next stage may bring, companies and their employees can begin to make sense of these changes and, ultimately, adapt to them and emerge stronger on the other side.

Mental health understanding and compassion

 

We have now been working at home for over a year. For many, home working is the new normal and with it comes the normalisation of decreased social interaction and busy environments. It’s understandable that because of this, some may experience social anxiety when thinking about returning to the hustle and bustle of the office and having continuous social interaction throughout the day. Employees will also have become used to having their own space, which may have been customised to suit their own needs and preferences.

Companies should expect a phased return to work as employees transition back into an office environment and will need to reassure employees that they can take their time getting back into a routine. In the same way that many of us were exhausted by the transition to Zoom a year ago, it may take a while to adjust to working in a shared workspace again. Especially if employees have less personal space, less control over the environment and potentially more distractions.

For companies getting people back to the office, they need to prioritise wellbeing in the workplace during this settling-in period and be sure to signpost mental health resources to help employees manage any anxiety about returning to the office. Services and helplines such MindSamaritansCALM, and Shout, as well as your internal mental health first aiders, if you have them, can be invaluable.

The new ISO 45003, which is currently under development at the time of writing, will be the new standard aimed at providing better support for psychological health and safety at work. It outlines the potential psychological risks in the workplace and provides organisations with guidelines to establish a health, safety and wellbeing programme.

Individual circumstances regarding personal situations, such as employees who live with shielding family members or who are still juggling childcare, may cause further anxiety when returning to the office. If a team member raises a concern, be mindful and compassionate to their circumstances and work out a schedule and working arrangement that suits them until their circumstances change. This maintains their trust in and loyalty to the company.

Find out more about what the research shows about working from home, download our report here.

The hybrid workspace – new workplace practices and patterns

 

Many businesses have successfully transitioned to working from home during the pandemic. For these organisations, it is well worth considering a hybrid or flexible working model for employees as part of the post-pandemic return. Flexible workers report higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their organisations than their non-flexible counterparts and research also shows that most people want to continue working from home, at least some of the time or on a flexible basis. Leaders should take this into consideration when establishing a new hybrid workplace practice.

Turning your office into an innovative, creative space and updating your workplace technology not only creates the safest, most hygienic space possible but empowers your employees to work collaboratively, wherever they’re based. However, this updated workspace dynamic should not come at the expense of individual, focused work, but support all team members in however they’d like to work.

We’ve all learnt valuable lessons from Covid-19. Companies who previously thought that working from home led to a decrease in productivity have been pleasantly surprised by its success. Many employees have been trusted to carry out their work without oversight and require little micro-management. These practices should be brought into the workplace, and can result in time saved for all team members and managers, as there is no longer a need for constant monitoring.

In the largest benchmark of employee workplace experience, Leesman found that 76% of workplaces did not offer an outstanding experience. If organisations want people to come back to the office, the experience has to be great.

Average just won’t do in a post-pandemic world. Take a user-centric approach to define the future of your workplace. The best workplaces are aligned to the needs of users, ensuring an outstanding experience for all.

We recognise that returning to work will bring both happiness and apprehension to team members who have been working from home for a year. It is important to listen to any concerns to help ease anxiety and to keep them informed at every step of the way. If you’d like to find out more about how Interaction can support your return-to-work strategy, get in touch.

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We are more sedentary than ever

 

As we find ourselves in the midst of another lockdown, most of us have returned to working exclusively from home. With no commute and no other reason to leave the house, other than for essentials and exercise, many are moving from bed to desk, perhaps going a whole day without venturing further than the fridge. We are more sedentary than ever before. Sitting at a screen has been the sole method of working, relaxing and socialising for months on end – the “zoom fatigue” has been real. As a result, we are sitting more and moving less.

Sedentary lifestyles: the key facts

 

  • 1 in 4 are physically inactive (WHO2018). 
  • 4th leading risk factor for mortality (WHO, 2018). 
  • 29% of all sickness absences in 2018/19 were accounted for by musculoskeletal conditions (Health & Safety Executive). 
  • 80% of adults are estimated to experience low back pain in their lifetime (Rubin, 2007).
  • 32x per day you need to alternate between sitting and standing to mitigate the effects of prolonged sitting (Vernikos et al., 1996).

 

The risks

 

It is estimated that four in five people have experienced musculoskeletal problems since the shift to WFH. Results from our survey in March 2020 revealed that 36% did not have a good ergonomic set up at home. In addition to poor posture, sitting for long periods of time puts stress on the spinal muscles and discs, reducing their protective resistance and increasing the risk of chronic back and neck problems that an estimated 1 in 5 will experience per year (Rubin, 2007). By going from sitting to standing, the body is exposed to gravity which helps to engage spinal muscles and to slow muscle and bone atrophy as a function of ageing.

Known as the ‘silent killer’ and coined ‘the new smoking,’ research has shown that physical inactivity puts us at a higher risk of developing a multitude of long-term health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. It’s also responsible for slowing metabolism, increasing blood pressure and accelerating the deterioration of muscles and bones.

The quick fix: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

 

We’re not saying the key to mitigate the risks is by doing rigorous, high intensity exercise. A 30 min HIIT session isn’t going to balance out the effects of sitting at your laptop for 8 hours. It’s the small, everyday movements which break up periods of prolonged sitting that protect our bodies from the risk factors of being sedentary, otherwise known as NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). NEAT metabolises the bulk of our energy during the day aside from when we’re sleeping, eating or exercising.  

 

Getting up once in a while for just a few minutes engages our muscles, bones and ligaments, as well as stimulating our blood flow and metabolism – responsible for regulating blood pressure and sugar levels. Research has shown that we should aim to alternate between sitting and standing at least 32 times a day to protect against the effects of being sedentary (Vernikos et al., 1996). The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines report recommends breaking up long periods of sitting time with activity for just 1 to 2 minutes to keep the metabolic processes in the body functioning healthily. Moving more also helps to boost self-esteem, mood and energy levels, crucial in a time when it’s more important than ever to take care of our health. 

NEAT habits

 

The best way to reduce sedentary periods at work is to make being active and moving a part of the job. Design should facilitate and promote everyday movements such as standing up from the desk, using the stairs and having to move to use the facilities. Agile working affords control over our working environment, and having a variety of settings such as collaboration and quiet focus areas encourages people to move around their workplace. The result is a healthier, happier and energised workforce.

 

Examples of NEAT include; climbing the stairs, opening a door, gardening, standing up, cleaning, cooking.

 

NEAT while WFH; 

  • Use a small glass so that you have to get up more often to refill it 
  • Set a reminder in your calendar or phone to move every 30 mins 
  • Stand up or walk during telephone calls or meetings  
  • Alternate between sitting and standing desks (tip: improvise by using the kitchen counter or ironing board as a desk) 
  • Go for a walk at lunch time (if you’re in Bristol, why not try this walk?)

 

NEAT in the office; 

  • Park further away from the office or get off the bus at an earlier stop 
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift  
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing or calling 
  • Use the bathroom on a different floor 
  • Agile working – switch workstations throughout the day 
  • Eat lunch away from the desk 

 

To conclude…

 

By raising awareness around the risks of sedentary lifestyles we can all make a conscious effort to break up prolonged periods of sitting at our desks. Which activity will you incorporate into your day? Let us know on social: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook

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Complexity in colour: can workplace colours really improve employee wellbeing and productivity?

 

In modern day society, many people around the world spend a considerable amount of time in enclosed rooms and buildings, such as offices. Therefore creating a workspace that can potentially help with motivation, productivity and wellbeing is more important than ever.

 

Colour and Mood

 

The debate as to whether colour can affect our mood, productivity and general psychological wellbeing has been argued throughout history and continues in contemporary psychology. The question as to the relationship between human behaviour and colour is not a simple one. One of the first studies to look into the relationship between colour and mood was in 1979 by Schauss in a study on American prisons, it was found that by painting the walls pink, aggressive behaviours reduced. These findings became so widely accepted that prisons all around the U.S and Canada followed suit.

Lack of research?

 

There is a wealth of psychological research suggesting that colour can have a significant effect on mood, however the research on colour and employee productivity is less substantial.

Real-world examples

 

It’s important to look at how psychological theories on colour may have impacted companies to implement colour into the workspace to improve productivity and wellbeing. Corporate giants like Google are reported to have A/B tested different colours around their office space to assess which colours can have different effects. For example it was found that purple had a negative impact in the work environment, as reported by CBS.

Unsurprisingly Dulux have used their own paint colours to enhance aesthetics in the aim of increasing health and wellbeing. Builders Space report that Sonica Bucksteg, a colour expert at Dulux claims that “businesses should always consider the use of colour to promote a positive image, as well to establish an environment where people will prosper”.

 

How we use colour

 

In our office designs we use colour in a multitude of ways, whether it’s to separate departments or highlight features colour will enhance a workspace.
A prime example of this is CPI Books, where the use of colour really transformed the office, paying attention to the details such as coloured screens, carpets and even painting the ductwork blue to make it stand out.

 

Different colours – different effects?

Workplace colour is an important consideration that can influence employees performance and productivity, according to a study conducted at the University of Central Lancashire. This leads to the question of why, and if different colours have different effects.

Red can be ideal for stimulating the brain which can sometimes increase heart rate and respiration rates as found by a study by The University of Texas. Dr. David Lewis supported this hypothesis when it was found the colour red can increase tension when subjects were tested on a variety of tasks in ‘colour booths’. However not all research supports this hypothesis, as reported by The Telegraph, red can actually be perceived positively by employees, and can be good at motivating people.

Blue and green have a significant amount of supporting evidence about their potential positive effects. For example a study by The University of British Columbia, found cognitively blue and green can have a calming effect. Therefore it could be suggested if the office environment is of a stressful nature, these colours may help relieve that stress if they feature frequently. Dr. David Lewis suggests that blue was the all-round winner for enhancing mood and helping brain function.

Other colours may also have a specific effect on people’s mood. Yellow was suggested to be to be good for energising and evoking enthusiasm among employees. Entrepreneur suggests that yellow is an optimistic colour that can help stimulate creativity. White can be a good colour to make a space look bigger, and according to Digsy can ‘inspire optimism’.

After reading the evidence on how different colours may have different effects it would not be surprising if someone would jump the gun and paint their whole office yellow to inspire creativity in their employees. However the relationship between colours and human behaviour is multifaceted and more complex than these findings would suggest.

 

 

Why colour is important to us

 

Zoe Parr, one of our designers, has her say on the importance of colour in the workplace after designing the colourful office of Ultimate Finance featured in the picture to the left.

“Colour in an office creates a vibrant and upbeat workspace. With just the use of a bright colour palette the design and feel of an office can be lifted drastically.”

 

 

Complexity in colour

 

To assume that colour can improve wellbeing and productivity on its own would be reductionistic and unrealistic. It is almost impossible to accurately measure the exact causality and cause and effect of wellbeing, mood and productivity. These variables are complex in their nature and can be affected by many different aspects in and outside of the office environment. The classic study by Kwallek et al suggests that colour schemes alone may not have any discernible impact on productivity. But it was found that interior workplace colour could affect mood.

The link between colour, wellbeing and productivity is tentative, yet a link still exists. We think that colour cannot be the sole contributor on productivity and wellbeing. Nevertheless colour is clearly an important aspect of office design that can impact upon how we work.

 

“businesses should always consider the use of colour to promote a positive image, as well to establish an environment where people will prosper

– Sonica Bucksteg, Dulux Colour Specialist

 

 

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Taking the lead: Is the advent of the office dog just a current fad…

…or is it a vital part of workplace wellbeing? Here we delve deeper into the pros and cons of having work friends of the four-legged variety.

According to Amazon, their employees share their workspace with 6,000 dogs a day – a statistic that reflects the rising popularity of canine work colleagues. Coinciding with the increasing focus on workplace wellbeing, office dogs epitomise the blurring of home and work lives; arguably the key revolution that we’ve seen in the workplace over the last decade. 

Here at Interaction, some of our favourite days are when clients bring their dog in tow – but this is an appreciation not shared by all office workers. With that in mind, we thought we’d weigh up the arguments for and against… 

The Perfect antidote for a ‘ruff’ day 

 

The main argument that promotes dogs in the office revolves around wellbeing. Research suggests that simply petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of cortisol. Ian Lamb of Innerspace agrees with this, commenting that Penny the miniature Labradoodle “is always on hand to offer a quick snuggle in times of stress” and that “you can never feel sad when her nose is on your lap”. 

 

Barney 

Barney quickly made himself know in the office for his big smiles and wagging tail! 

 

Penny 

Penny was particularly interested in our feature moss walls on her visit to our office! 

 

Mavis 

Mavis successfully distracted the entire office for 15 minutes with her tiny paws! 

 

Combine this with the fact that dogs can also force people to go outside, it’s clear to see why office dogs are great for mental health, as well as boosting productivity. Proud office-dog owner Jocelyn Smith at Box Twenty can vouch for this thanks to Gadget the Greyhound, stating that: “Even though he sleeps for 85% of the day, he lifts everyone’s mood in the office” and he “also means I leave my desk every lunchtime to get some fresh air, rain or shine”. 

When it comes to brand image, office dogs can work wonders too. This is because they can highlight a forward-thinking yet relaxed company culture – and one that would appeal to clients, visitors, and both existing and future employees. Dog-friendly offices could even help a company when it comes to shortlisting new recruits; as Ian Lamb describes: “it goes without saying that any new employee is going to have to get along with Penny”. 

Barking up the wrong tree 

 

Yet what if dogs in the workplace are just a case of people jumping on the current bandwagon? After all, it could be argued that dogs can be distracting, and that productivity comes from clearly differentiating between home and work. 

Equally, if we go back to basics it’s clear that not everyone likes dogs, whether this be because of simple preference, allergies or fear. For example, according to The Independent, cynophobia (a fear of dogs) is one of the UK’s top 13 phobias. 

It’s therefore fair to say that dogs in the workplace won’t reduce everyone’s stress levels. Even advocates for office dogs empathise with this; Jocelyn at Box Twenty commented that “not everyone likes dogs, so I have to be very aware of meetings happening in the office to ensure Gadget has a home day when we have visitors who we haven’t told about him”. Similarly, Nik Margolis at Team Eleven (second home to Bear the Siberian Husky) suggests that it can “take regular effort to dissuade him from sitting under the desk of the one person who doesn’t really like dogs”. 

 

Gadget 

Retired from racing, Gadget now enjoys a more relaxing life with Box Twenty! 

 

Bear 

Little Pomsky, Bear, is always happy to be part of a ‘talk and walk’ meeting around the surrounding fields! 

 

Olive 

Always up for a nice back rub, Olive patrols the eXPD8 office floor for the perfect spot for a nap! 

A way to counteract today’s stresses 

 

Chances are, dog friendly offices will remain as a topic of debate for years to come, so we can’t ignore their fast rise in popularity. Perhaps it all boils down to the fact that the ever-increasing pace of life is causing a chain reaction for more innovative ways to combat stress. 

When it comes to an office dog, you won’t know until you try. If the positive engagement with our recent “office dog of the fortnight” social media campaign is anything to go by, we bet many office-dwellers would jump at the chance of a canine companion. 

Has this blog made you paws for thought? If you’ve got your own thoughts on office dogs (or cats for that matter) why not leave a comment or pop us an email? 

Equally, if you’re interested in other ways of improving your office’s culture, why not take a look at some of our other blogs? Click here.

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Covid-19 Social Distancing Workplace Design Services…

 

Interaction can prepare your office for COVID-19 social distancing measures from the UK Government. Call us for a quote

As we prepare to exit the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, we need to do what we can to optimise employee safety and wellbeing as well as productivity. As workplace design and build experts, our team of psychologists, designers, furniture consultants and project managers can provide a full package to support your business in returning to the office and implementing social distancing in the workplace, as well as several other measures.

Our workplace experts will work to the latest Government guidelines for social distancing in the office to ensure the safe and comfortable return of your employees and office based working.

Interaction can help you with your social distancing in the office planning, policy and communications, designing and delivering physical adaptations to your office, as well as logistics, removals and storage. We can then review any physical and behavioural initiatives on a regular basis and help you plan the next phases as restrictions are relaxed.

With major and accelerated advances in digital working as a result of the pandemic, this is also an important time to review your workplace strategy.

What are the benefits of thorough Social Distancing and Covid-19 Return to Office Planning?

 

  • Ensure employee safety and reduce anxiety
  • Support individuals fairly
  • Boost morale and motivation
  • Achieve business continuity
  • Return to optimum capacity as soon as possible
  • Achieve cost savings

What can you expect from us? Here is an example of our social distancing space planning process in action…

 

Social distancing in your office

 

As we return to the office, it’s important to optimise employee safety and wellbeing. Interaction can prepare your office for COVID-19 social distancing measures from the UK Government, contact us today to find out how we can help you.

For more information visit our Covid Return to Office Planning page for more information.

 

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It’s a known fact that physical activity can energise you during the working day…

 

However, we also know how hard it can be finding time to get moving – even for 10 minutes. So for busy days where you can’t seem to move from your desk, there’s a great solution – yoga. We’ve discovered (and practised) 5 simple poses you can add into your daily routine.

Although desk yoga won’t completely magic away health issues such as aching joints and fatigue (especially if you lead an overall sedentary lifestyle) it’s a great place to start – and can help to improve your posture, energy levels and metabolism.

Wrist and finger stretch I

 

When sitting, take the fingertips of one hand into the palm of the other hand. Extend the arm of the bottom hand and gently pull your fingers down towards the back of the wrist until you feel a slight stretch. Count to 10 then repeat for the opposite hand.

 

Wrist and finger stretch II

 

Go back to wrist and finger stretch I, but this time around pull each finger individually towards the back of the wrist. Hold for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other hand.

Seated Tadasana

 

When sat down, reach your arms above your head with the palms facing up and in parallel to the shoulders. Try to straighten your elbows as much as you can. To add in a neck stretch, slowly move your head side to side whilst keeping your arms in place.

Seated Twist

 

With both knees facing forward, bring your left hand to touch your right side. Sit up straight and rest your right hand either at your side or down by your right hip. With each inhale, sit up taller. On each exhale, move your right shoulder back an inch as your left shoulder moves forward. Aim to pull your left hip back as you twist to the right as you want the twist to stay in your lumbar area.

Seated Pigeon

 

Bring your right knee to your chest. Flex your right foot and start to drop your knee open by rotating your thigh out from your hip joint. Rest your right ankle on your left thigh, above your left knee. Use your hand to lightly press your right knee down (but be gentle and don’t worry if it doesn’t go very far!)

 

Given it a try? Let us know by tagging us on twitter. For other tips on workplace wellbeing, explore some more of our articles too.

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How can the workplace impact the happiness or wellbeing of its employees?

 

Poor mental health costs UK employers a staggering £30 billion each year through lost production, recruitment costs and absence, according to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). It follows that helping to ensure workers are comfortable, happy and healthy is good for business.

But what constitutes workplace happiness or wellbeing? And how can the office environment impact its occupants in such a fundamental way?

Wellbeing defined

 

Philosophers have debated the definition of wellbeing for millennia with good reason, the subject concerns the very essence of human existence. In recent years, wellbeing has moved from the realm of philosophy to that of science, and a growing body of research suggests there are certain factors that together create a sense of wellness.

Wellbeing is a versatile term that can encompass a variety of meanings in psychology and in everyday life. It can be portrayed in both mental and physical states, which can be affected by the workplace. Consultant and specialist Work and Wellbeing describe,

“That part of an employee’s overall wellbeing that they perceive to be determined primarily by work and can be influenced by workplace interventions.”

However wellbeing should be deliberated beyond just the workplace, as many factors outside of the office can affect employees psychologically and physically.

Influencing factors

 

Autonomy and meaningfulness are key. Individuals need to take part in processes that are meaningful, engaging and involve decision-making and learning. Social experiences are likewise vital. A feeling of connection to, and recognition from, others help to boost confidence, while supportive relationships help people cope with challenge and change. Physical activity has been proven to keep the mind alert, and promote creativity.

By accommodating these factors, the workplace can function, as it should; a tool for workers that allows them to perform to their full potential.

Passive office design elements

Some design features by virtue of their existence help to promote wellness.

Filtered air, adequate heating and good natural light levels have obvious health benefits. The presence of plants – and we don’t just mean the odd pot-bound spider plant – can have a range of mental health benefits, in addition to further improving air quality. In fact, biophilia is a whole school of thought that argues there is a bond between humans and other living things that we are hardwired to thrive on.

Other passive design features include good acoustics to effectively manage noise, attractive décor, temperature, lighting, ergonomic furniture and a variety of spaces that accommodate individual or collaborative work tasks. This means people have the choice to access the type of space that best meets their needs.

 

Active office design elements

Fitness suites or gyms are clearly aimed at encouraging activity, while the provision of showers and cycle parks are endorsements of active travel to work. The choice of office furniture can also promote activity with the use, for example, of sit/stand desks becoming increasingly encouraged to avoid back problems and other posture issues. Walking or standing meetings likewise help to get workers up and about.

 

Office culture

 

The other measures employers can take to boost wellness in the workplace are largely cultural and revolve around empowering the individual to make choices. Some tasks are dependent on place, however if not remote working should be considered. The trend amongst progressive employers is towards an agile working approach.

Agile working recognises that work is a process not a desk in a specific place in a building. This style of work uses technology to mobilise workers, who can move freely around their workplace depending on the needs of their tasks – be that a need for informal, creative space or a buzzy collaborative hub.

Complete breaks from work also need to be encouraged. The World Green Building Council’s 2014 report Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in the Offices, underlined the importance of time out when it revealed that workers who take regular breaks – that’s 10 minutes for every 90 worked resulted in 30% more focus, 46% more overall wellbeing and 50% more creativity.

Having a culture that is trustworthy also enhances employee wellbeing. Many companies such as LinkedIn, Netflix and Virgin trust their employees to have unlimited holiday. This open and honest policy is a clear indication of promoting wellbeing by giving staff the freedom of choice. As the Telegraph report,

“when we design systems that assume bad faith from the participants, and whose main purpose is to defend against that nasty behaviour, we often foster the very behaviour we’re trying to deter.”

Such polices may have an impact on productivity, wellbeing and employee satisfaction.

A final thought (before we take a break)

 

Most businesses think carefully about their office and how to minimise property costs and other overheads. Given that employee costs generally account for around 90% of business operating costs, any improvement in employee productivity will have a hugely beneficial impact on the costs of workplace wellbeing.

This is not to say that wellbeing revolves around costs, as it can have detrimental and beneficial effects on many aspects of a business. This is why this topic is one of the most discussed and prevalent issues in the modern workplace.

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A new year is upon us, so is it the time for change?

 

If you’re thinking about updating your workplace, it can be hard to know where to start. So to make things a little easier, we’ve put together our very own A-Z of Workplace Design & Build, illustrated by images of our projects across Bath, Bristol, London, Birmingham and beyond.

2018 could be the year you finally make the most out of your workplace, so read on to get inspired by design and build buzzwords, trends and ideas…

Agile

Create a workplace design that facilitates an agile culture, such as reacting to day-to-day needs or longer term considerations such as recruitment drives.

Newly designed fitted office breakout zone

Pictured: CPI Books, Melksham

 

Branding

Streamline your brand message by showcasing it in your workplace design, whether subtly or more explicitly.

Pictured: British Heart Foundation, London

 

Collaboration

Relationships often form the basis for amazing work, so ensure your workplace layout promotes spontaneous meetings and creative brainstorming.

Coworkers meeting with cartoon wall decoration in background
Pictured: eXPD8, Bristol

 

Diversity

Diversity is key when it comes to giving employees choice and creating areas that effectively suit the needs of different teams (and their tasks) within your organisation.

Pictured: NHS SBS, Bristol

 

Efficiency

Space efficiency is great news for productivity and reducing rent costs – make the most of your space by utilising the shape of the building in combination with innovative furniture.

Pictured: Gresham, Bristol

 

Future-Proof

 

Ensure your workspace can accommodate growth or changes in working style with flexible furniture and work settings. Anticipating future developments will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.


Pictured: RFS, Swindon

 

Galvanize

Motivate employees and clients alike with an inspirational yet functional office design. A workplace that stands out will help you to stand out too, and create a great first, and lasting, impression.

Pictured: Vistair, Bristol

 

Hot-Desking

 

Hot-desking is great for promoting collaboration and creativity. Equally, if your business has plans for expansion, then initially introducing a hot-desking area before creating a fixed workstation can be a great way to make use of space.

Pictured: TLT, Manchester

 

Integration

A Key Trend For 2018

 

The integration of people, technology and the built environment is key to the future of offices, so opt for an office design and build that facilitates the use of the right type of technology for your company’s needs.

Pictured: Hydrock, Bristol

 

Joinery

 

Make your office stand out with unique touches of joinery. This could come in the form of screens, reception desks or boardroom tables – and they’re not limited to wood!

Pictured: Clarendon Business Centre, Bath

 

Knowledge

 

Design and build consultants that know how to achieve a client’s vision will achieve a smooth process from start to finish – and experience and know-how are key.

Pictured: Jordans, Bristol

 

Life/Work Balance

A Key Trend For 2018

 

There is a growing understanding of the long-term benefits of mixing living and working. A workplace design can facilitate this and in turn, bring out the best in team members.


Pictured: FluidOne, London

 

Modern

 

Bring your workplace into the present day by making it light and bright. Not only will this improve staff wellbeing, but it will make it appealing for visitors too.

Pictured: Ultimate Finance, Bristol

Natural

A Key Trend For 2018

 

Wood-inspired touches and biophilia can breathe new lease of life into your workplace – quite literally! It’s proven that natural touches are great stimulants for workplace wellbeing and productivity.

Pictured: Magna Housing, Dorchester

Openness

 

Making smart use of glass in meeting rooms gives users the option of privacy and saves non-users from interruptions. This helps to create a sense of openness and the feeling that everyone is being kept in the loop.


Pictured: SunLife, Bristol

Productivity

 

Updating an office can have a hugely positive impact on productivity. This goes hand in hand with success and future growth of a business.

Pictured: SLR, Bristol

Quality

 

Choose a reliable office design and build company who will be sticklers for quality – both in terms of the process and finished product. An eye for detail is key.

Pictured: TLT, Bristol

 

Resimercial

 

Productivity is best when employees can feel relaxed and collaborate more naturally. This is where resimericial, the mix of “residential” and “commercial”, comes in. Find out more about the Rise of Resimercial.

Pictured: SunLife, Bristol

Snag Free

 

Reputable office design and build specialists will be motivated by handing over projects with absolutely no defects – and will have a string of snag free case studies to back this up.

Pictured: British Heart Foundation, Birmingham.

Tea Point

 

Never underestimate the power of a good tea point – a place to spontaneously meet, or to find the headspace needed to solve a complex problem.

Pictured: Brunel Pension Partnership, Bristol

 

Unique

 

Workplace designers with experience will know that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach. They will tailor a one-of-a-kind design and build to your company’s requirements.


Pictured: money.co.uk, Cirencester

Visuals

 

Workplace designs can be brought to life with the latest visualisation techniques – allowing you to make creative decisions before any physical work even starts.


Pictured: Visual of SunLife, Bristol

Wellness

A Key Trend For 2018

 

A workplace that promotes wellbeing through healthy choices, socialising and openness leads to happier and more productive employees.

Pictured: Veale Wasbrough Vizards, Bristol

 

X-Factor

 

Whether you’re looking to attract new recruits with the X-Factor, or to retain equally valuable members of staff, your workplace design is a great place to start.

Pictured: money.co.uk, Cirencester

You

 

The best design and build firms will put you – the client – at the centre of the process, and will ensure the needs of you and your business are listened to and met.

Pictured: Rethink Group, London

 

Generation Z

 

A modern office design that is firmly aligned with a company’s culture can help appeal to the newest generation of talent entering the workplace – those born between 1995 and 2001.

Pictured: Interaction, Bath

25 years of experience has given us an in-depth knowledge of every aspect that goes into workplace design and build. So if you’re keen to make the most out of your space, get in touch with us.

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As many as one in ten people are thought to be neurodiverse

 

…and firms are being urged to adapt to accommodate members of this group.

 

Tapping into talent

 

Neurodiversity has joined LGBT, black and minority ethnic, and the disabled as a minority group worthy of special consideration at work and in education. Supporters argue that rather than disorders that need treatment, ‘neurominorities’ (including those such as Autism and ADHD) can add to the success of businesses. This is because different ways of thinking can offer unique strengths and skills.

Furthering this idea is James Hilton, chief creative officer at Native – a specialist industrial design studio. He suggests how “it’s been shown time and again that when a problem is given to a group consisting of 99% neurologically identical people, the solution is more often than not provided by the 1% neurological outlier. That outlier may well be considered disabled or disadvantaged most or all of the time.”

In other words, neurodiversity could prove vital when it comes to solving problems and coming up with new ideas. Surely this philosophy is therefore important for businesses that want to stay ahead of the game.

What does it mean to be neurodiverse?

 

According to the CIPD’s ‘Neurodiversity at Work’ report, neurodiversity can be defined as “the biological reality of infinite variation in human neurocognitive functioning and behaviour, akin to ‘biodiversity’ in the natural world. The term ‘neurodiversity’ is now also being used to describe the fast-emerging sub-category of workplace diversity and inclusion that focuses on including people who are neurodivergent”.

Autism UK offer a more simplified definition, suggesting that neurodiviersity “represents the variety of human brains and minds” which is “an essential and natural form of human diversity”.

Workplaces that cater for diversity

 

Arguably, for businesses to be “neurodiversity smart’ they should develop an acceptance of brain differences, and celebrate and leverage the unique strengths that can come from alternative ways of thinking.

Steps that could be taken to be accommodating of neurominorities include: being more flexible when it comes to recruitment and interview practices, maintaining office noise levels and ensuring that individuals have access to aids for personal organisation such as filing drawers and trays.

Clever workplace design can help to bring out the best in team members, regardless of working style and preference. For example, individual desks can cater for those that prefer to complete tasks independently and acoustic booths can aid individuals that like to work with reduced noise levels.

Here at Interaction, we’re firm believers that a flexible and agile workplace, and one that reflects the unique nature of individuals, is the key to success. Variation in thinking and working style should be seen as an asset, rather than a hindrance – and that’s why each and every one of our projects caters for people’s various day-to-day demands.

 

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6% of the UK-based workforce spends more than an hour of their working day on social networking sites… 

 

Cyber-slacking is where employees use the Internet or their smartphones during work hours for personal use. This could include checking social media, watching live sports games or Internet shopping.  

Also known as gold-bricking (making something appear more valuable than it is in reality), this surge in workplace distraction may be partly to blame for the shrinking of western productivity growth. This was highlighted in Philip Hammond’s recent budget, which expects the UK economy to grow by 1.5% this year, down from the estimate of 2% made in March. 

Despite productivity growth stagnating since the 2008 financial crisis, this parallels the increase in smartphone production and use in the same time frame (highlighted by the rise of the iphone since 2007 and the prediction that by 2019, 2.5 billion people will own a smartphone). As a result, it is now harder for companies to restrict worker’s personal Internet activity and therefore also more difficult to control cyber-slacking. 

Cyber-slacking may provide workforce insights 

 

The statistics may highlight a correlation between cyber-slacking and decreasing productivity, but this may be more useful to business owners than first thought – especially as the relationship between productivity and employee engagement may highlight trends on work satisfaction. 

Chances are, those who spend more time browsing the Internet or social media during work hours are those who are less stimulated by their tasks. If cyber-slacking is a common theme in the workplace, it may be a sign that skill-sets are not being utilised effectively. 

Understanding the causes of cyber-slacking has important psychological and economic consequences, and so taking time to delve deeper may be worthwhile for your business. Better understand your workforce and their habits, and it’s likely you’ll be able to harness people’s true potential. 

 

Your workplace plays a role too 

 

If your workplace itself is stimulating and promotes collaboration, it may help to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity – and therefore reduce cyber-slacking. 

A workplace that truly caters for people and their day-to-day tasks is one that sees better results, regardless of sector. How do we know? For 25 years, we’ve been placing people firmly at the centre of our office design and build projects – and by doing so, we’ve helped a range of businesses make the most out of their workplaces. 

 

 

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