How Prayer Rooms can Improve Workplace Wellbeing
Across all sectors, there is a growing need to diversify the workplace. The conversations surrounding gender and race have amped up in recent years, and it comes as no surprise that faith should soon follow. Perhaps it’s time you thought about adding a prayer room to your workplace?
Why faith rooms are needed
Wellbeing comes in all shapes and sizes. Providing employees with a gym, fresh fruit and regular breaks is all well and good, but it is important that the most fundamental parts of their lifestyle are being looked after. According to the 2021 UK Census, 56.8% of citizens are part of a religion or spiritual denomination. Despite this, prayer rooms are not always available.
The benefits of prayer rooms
It is not mandatory for employers to provide a prayer room for their staff. It can, however, be beneficial for both the user and the business.
For many people, faith plays a huge role in their spiritual and personal wellbeing. Being able to practice their religion freely and without judgement can reduce stress, improve mental clarity and fulfil their overall contentment.
If prayer whilst at work is denied or made difficult, it may cloud an individual’s thoughts due to nervousness, anger or shame. An employee may be more able to focus on their work with complete productivity and peace of mind if they are granted a short amount of time to practice their faith in the way they intend.
Prayer rooms are a way for an office to accommodate to all. They identify to both internal and external individuals that a business is accepting to everyone, no matter their religion. This can help create a more inclusive and welcoming environment, and result in improved wellbeing, workplace relationships and recruitment. It may also give employees the confidence to suggest further inclusive actions and start discussions in the workplace.
By having basic needs met, employees feel valued. Moreover, faith rooms demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion, highlighting that a business is striving to improve and evolve.
The fundamentals of faith rooms
Some religions require prayer to face a particular direction, for example Muslims pray towards Mecca and Jews to Jerusalem. Prayer rooms can be small, but must have enough space to be able to face the required direction. For Muslims, the space will need to be around 4 x 2 ft per person. The religion requires them to pray at specific times throughout the day, so they will need space to pray together.
A prayer room must be a clean environment. Ideally it would be separate to the fridge, sink, and places where people have been unwell or breastfeed. Some faiths require shoes to be taken off before prayer, so clean, dry flooring and some shoe storage will benefit. Soft lighting is also preferred, and obscured glass on any windows or partitions.
Aside from the shoe storage, not much furniture is required. A small cupboard is needed to avoid religious texts from being stored on the floor. It is best to keep these texts closed away, as to not interfere with people of different religions. The permanent presence of religious icons for one faith group may come across as a symbol of ‘possession’ to others. This means the room should be left in a neutral state when not in use. Low comfortable seating is also recommended, for musings and reading.
For those practicing Islam, Wudu (cleansing preparation) is required before prayer. This can be done in a sink but is much easier and safer with a footwash. A moveable screen or curtain would be an effective way of separating the washing facilities from the prayer space. It could also be used to separate people during prayer. For example, Muslim guidelines of modesty and tradition at times may see men and women praying separately.
Want to improve inclusivity in your workplace?
If you want to discuss office fit-outs and faith rooms with our expert team, reach out on 01225 485 600. Or, perhaps you might want to read more about improving wellbeing in the workplace.