With concerns for mental health and wellbeing on the rise, it is imperative for businesses to ensure they have the correct facilities and office environments to support their staff.
By doing so, they can not only support their staff development but also increase their chances of business success. The same applies to freelancers, who are responsible for organising their own working environment.
The statistics show that there is a workplace crisis when it comes to mental health. Recent research conducted by CV Library saw that four in ten of professionals are on the brink of burnout. With nearly half of employees facing this dilemma, what can be done to overcome this common issue?
Perhaps one of the most important and impactful things a business could do is consider its office and its environment. From paint colours to layout, it has been proven that a well-thought-out office space can improve productivity, engagement and, ultimately, the mental health of staff.
The evolution of the modern workspace
Over the years, workspaces have continued to evolve to accommodate the needs of the employees. To gain further insight into this topic, we interviewed Aaron Balick, psychotherapist and the Director of a Clerkenwell-based workspace. Aaron mentioned that this change in workspaces is a reflection on the changes within the working industry.
“As we have seen a shift away from the idea of a ‘job for life’, and with start-up businesses and self-employment now more popular than ever, the office environment has evolved to meet this change.”
Over the past 20 plus years, offices have seen a vast developmental progression, with many businesses choosing to steer away from the traditional office structure. Back in the 1990s, employees would sit, cemented at their desks, only getting up to leave for the day.
Nowadays, we’re seeing an increase in more creative working solutions, such as standing desks and an increase in flexible working. This advance in technology and working solutions has provided employees with the freedom to decide how they want to work.
Aaron believes that, although it may take some time to get offices right for people’s needs and a general sense of mental wellbeing, businesses are on the right path. Considering things such as flexible working for their staff, for example, can address many short-term problems faced on a day to day basis and provide employees with the spaces they need to thrive.
What can be included in a wellbeing-focused workplace?
There is more to a workplace wellness scheme than fridges stocked with free beer. Whilst these little incentives are fun for a while, there are more long term factors to consider that could have positive impacts company-wide.
For example, businesses can implement the following factors into their workplaces to address common mental health and wellbeing issues such as stress, anxiety and lack of motivation:
- Office greenery – whilst the idea of adding plants and various greenery to an office seems obvious, many businesses forget this simple trick. The addition of a few plants to an office, brings cleaner air and may relieve employee stress, leading to an increase in productivity.
- Provide breakout spaces – one of the best ways to increase wellbeing and give your employees a chance to unwind is with breakout spaces. Bringing them in means employees won’t eat their lunch at their desks and will be able to enjoy a break from screen time.
- Access to health information – wellbeing includes both physical and mental health. Ensure your employees have access to all the information they need to stay healthy. For example, businesses can bring in a healthcare advisor to offer a talk to employees ahead of flu season to help them prepare.
- Incentives that focus on health – whilst cake on your birthday is great, businesses can offer incentives that focus purely on wellbeing. For example, monthly massages are a great treat for employees to look forward to, and the results can work wonders on a stressed or anxious employee.
Research by the Harvard Business Review indicates that employees who reported feeling happy in their workspace experienced a 31% increase in their productivity levels. Moreover, the same study found that happy employees are 37% better at selling, therefore boosting a company’s revenue due to increased sales conversions.
How do coworking spaces help with wellbeing?
Aaron suggested that by working in spaces like Stillpoint Spaces, you are actively sending out a message that wellbeing is important to you as an individual. With like-minded individuals working together in a specially designed space, factors such as morale and wellbeing will be greatly improved.
“For example, we may draw on the experience of a member of our community with special expertise to offer training or consultation should that query arise. That way we can offer a hand to the organisation seeking to improve their work environment, while at the same time promoting the skills of our membership”.
Coworking spaces such as Stillpoint Spaces promote an approachable atmosphere. This means that, if a member would like to run an event or workshop, members of Stillpoint will work with them to make it happen. This is a collaborative and creative space, offering individuals the chance to grow as a professional.
By finding the right coworking office, individuals can access useful technology and equipment that will assist them with their duties, thus taking off some of the pressure experienced by individuals without proper resources.
A recent article produced by Office Freedom, the UK’s first serviced office space consultancy, suggests that coworking spaces help to combat the feeling of loneliness often felt by remote workers. With 1.2 million British professionals suffering with chronic loneliness, coworking spaces are an innovative and effective way to support the positive wellbeing of workers.
By opting to work in a modern, flexible coworking space instead of from home, employees can feel the direct benefits of collaboration, social interaction and productivity. Not only will this support employees’ mental welfare, but it will also help save employers around £2.5 billion a year due to the health complications caused by loneliness.
What about businesses?
Coworking spaces also have benefits for entire businesses, as well as individuals. Aaron suggested that if businesses use coworking spaces as a way of putting fulfilment at work first before productivity, they can get more value out of their employees.
This idea suggests that, if a business places attention on what will work to meet the psychological and emotional needs of employees within a business, efficiency and greater productivity tends to follow.
By placing greater focus on wellbeing and mental health, work environments can be appropriately adjusted to better meet the emotional needs of employees and workers. Aaron Balick suggested that businesses that are able to make this change will be well ahead of the game, establishing themselves as both industry leaders and employers.
Are you ready to embrace the change?
Whether you are planning on renovating your existing office space or looking to branch out your workplace benefits by offering flexible working in coworking spaces, both of these changes can work towards improved staff wellbeing.
Regardless of whether you’re a small company, a start-up business or a freelancer looking to achieve the perfect working environment, there are options out there to address your specific needs. Having a workplace that is designed to be emotionally fulfilling during working hours should be seen as completely normal, instead of being considered an ‘add-on’ service.