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Wellbeing in the Workplace

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019

According to Public Health England, the surroundings in which employees spend their working lives are an important source of job satisfaction and impact on work motivation and patterns of interaction. They can be as much of a source of pressure as a heavy workload, poor work-life balance or significant organisational change.

Recent figures on the economic case for wellbeing at work show the high rates of sickness absence due to stress, anxiety and depression. The physical environment that organisations provide for employees to carry out their work activities, most commonly in some form of office space, has been shown to have a powerful role in shaping a range of psychological and behavioural outcomes for employees.

We have explored several factors that can encourage collaboration, flexibility, empower employee freedom and hopefully lead to improved mental health and well-being...


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Four Real A table from Ocee Design at our showroom - an ideal spot for an informal meeting away from the desk

Environment Layout

Open plan and ‘flexi’ workplaces have the potential to increase collaboration, boost innovation and use space efficiently. However, it is important for organisations to integrate space for quiet, privacy and concentration in their office plans. Higher rates of sickness absence have been associated with a lack of perceived control and privacy at work.

Our open plan offices encourage collaborative working amongst teams. The soft seating ranges and numerous meeting spaces throughout our showroom offer staff and clients areas to meet or work away from the desk in addition to the breakout spaces we have for informal meetings, agile working or break times.


For advice on space planning and workplace design contact our Design team

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Image credit: Boss Design

Furniture

Allowing employees flexibility in workplace furniture and working stations is associated with reduced sickness absence and greater job satisfaction. The evidence suggests that it is important to consider ergonomics, including adjustable chairs and sit-stand desks.

We offer a large range of specialist ergonomic furniture as well as agile working products, soft seating to create flexible breakout spaces, meeting tables and collaborative environments... http://products.bof.co.uk


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BOF installation at IQ Building, University of Wales Trinity St David

Ergonomics

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple”, Bill Gates

A workplace’s number one should be it’s staff, not customers. Ergonomics can have a massive influence on health, happiness and general well-being and we’re now seeing a large shift towards ensuring people are made as comfortable as possible each day. We previously produced an article on sit-to-stand working which you can read in more detail here.

We are all unique. We come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of different personalities, so why would we work the same? In recent years the prominence and popularity of sit-to-stand desking solutions has been on the rise, with many websites and newspapers reporting the “miracle” effects of standing work. However, it’s important to note that the real focus of “Sit-to-Stand” solutions is often missed, and that focus is flexibility….

“Sit-to-Stand” facilitates not just sitting and just standing but the freedom to choose from a variety of postures depending on the task at hand. The result? A working environment that ultimately leads to happy, comfortable, healthy and productive employees!

A flexible “Sit-to-stand” environment has shown the following…

  • Increased HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Decreased incidents of breathing difficulties
  • Decreased swelling of the lower limbs
  • Reduces lower back discomfort
  • Shows little to no decrease in productivity
  • Workers varying between sitting and standing positions were 78% likely to report a pain-free day.
  • Improved communication between colleagues
  • Better working atmosphere through ease of communication
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BOF Administration office featuring Symphony sit-stand desks

Lighting and Temperature

Both lighting and temperature have significant impacts on physical and psychological wellbeing in a workplace, and managers should be proactive in addressing issues highlighted by staff. The quality and comfort levels of lighting can impact wellbeing, for example poor lighting levels can result in discomfort and fatigue. An ideal office temperature was found to be 22-26 degrees Celsius, with those outside this range associated with worse performance and motivation.

Poor lighting often gets overlooked in the workplace, as we talk about mental health and well-being, and the focus is firmly on creating happier and healthier workplaces. Bad lighting is associated with a range of ill-health effects, both physical and mental, such as eye strain, headaches, fatigue and also stress and anxiety in more high-pressured work environments. As we spend much of the day in artificial lighting, there is evidence that the lack of natural sunlight has an adverse effect on the body and the mind, and can result in conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

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Acoustics

Our understanding of how people function in the open plan office has evolved over the last 20 years. In particular, much research has been conducted regarding the effect of the acoustics in the workplace and how this influences productivity and wellbeing. In fact, the majority of office workers identify noise as a major concern.

A good acoustic space is about the reduction of speech intelligibility where privacy or concentrated work are required, and increasing it where communication and collaboration take place. The focus should not be on reducing noise levels, but rather manipulating the clarity of the speech signal. Acoustic products should therefore be particularly effective at speech frequencies.

Quality acoustic products provide solutions for the control of reverberation, reduction of speech level, and even systems which introduce ‘good’ sound into a space to reduce distractions. Used in various combinations, these products will improve the quality of the acoustic environment, allowing staff to be more productive and increasing worker satisfaction and wellbeing. View our ranges of pods and screens here

Biophillia

There’s growing evidence that workplaces who incorporate natural elements, such as plants, light, colours and shapes have noticeable and measurable benefits for both companies and their employees.

The positive effects touch on everything from general well-being, creativity and increased productivity. It’s all based on the principle of biophilia — the instinctive affinity that humans have with the natural world and other living systems. And it’s easier to achieve in the workplace than you’d think.

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Relic Cloud by Frovi

Mental Health

We all have mental health just as we have physical health - it moves up and down along a spectrum from good to poor. And considering how much time we spend at work, it’s not surprising that workplace environments and culture affect our wellbeing.

Smart employers know that organisations perform better when staff are healthy, motivated and focused. Research consistently shows that when employees feel their work is meaningful and they are valued and supported, they tend to have higher wellbeing levels, be more committed to the organisation’s goals and, importantly, they perform better too. This strong relationship between levels of staff wellbeing and motivation and business performance is often called ‘employee engagement’. (Credit: Mind.org.uk; HowToPromoteWellBeing.pdf)

Exercise

For some people, finding the right time to fit in a gym class can be a struggle. Long working hours, a stressful commute and then possibly hectic family commitments mean that by the time your chore list is complete, there’s only time for a bite to eat before hitting the hay. Evaluating your commute to work can be one way to find time for exercise.

If your commute is quite long, you could look at jumping off the train a stop or two before your final destination and exercise from there. Even a brisk walk is beneficial, if running or cycling isn’t appealing to you. It could also save you a few pennies on reduced transport fees.

Adding exercise to your routine could also have a positive effect on your day, with activity shown to increase focus, improve memory and make you feel happier.

A lot of offices are equipped with shower facilities too, enabling you to freshen up upon arrival. If not, a change of clothes and a quick wipe will make you work ready. Still not convinced? Stick to using your journey home as your exercise commute.

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There are lots of factors to be considered in order to ensure that the physical characteristics of the work environment do not have detrimental effects on engagement, productivity and wellbeing. We hope you found this article useful!

Further information and advice can be found on www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk

For more information on how we can help improve your working environment please contact info@bof.co.uk or call our team of experts on 01656 661061.