Office spaces have been advancing alongside society since as early as the 18th century. When the British empire was expanding, and trade booming, the office concept was introduced so that workers could amass within a physical exterior, and work.
Fit-for-purpose designs were exhibited; isolated work stations employed for “intellectuals” to remain focused and packed-to-the-brim proximities were constructed so workers weren’t likely to slack, through fear of being singled out. Such spaces were built with the aim of maximising: productiveness, work volumes and performance rates. Yet work environments have transgressed significantly since…
Fast forward to the 21st century, where a firm’s priorities have altered; employee wellbeing, once completely disregarded, now sits at the forefront of many a business model.
Why has the focus shifted to employee wellbeing?
- Poor mental health is now at an all-time high, and thus is finally being taken seriously — the stigma has alleviated particularly in work environments, due to increasing employee absence through mental health issues.
- Throughout society, change hasn’t incurred as exponentially as it has throughout the digital age — with not just technological developments taking place, but other catastrophic environmental changes occurring — pressures are accumulating, inside and outside of work that are impacting modern dwellers.
- Through findings and various studies, businesses have concluded that employees work at their best when they’re happy… shock. Workers are more productive, creative, focused, and dedicated to roles when their wellbeing is being looked after, influencing firms to work around their needs.
The #1 employee demand to boost employee wellbeing: “a pleasing interior”
According to a recent survey carried out by Office Genie, effective office design trumps all other existing elements a business can offer. Employees are most content working in offices that cater to their needs. That go above and beyond less inspiring archetypal set ups. So much they’d rather sacrifice the option to work flexibly from home.
Nature > technology
As innovation continues to drive society forward, businesses must retain a human-focused core to prevent workers from becoming digitally overwhelmed. In terms of enhancing wellbeing through design, this can be achieved by reverting back to innate basics; enforcing social connection through the instalment of community-focused spaces, as well as creating areas that promote fresh air and nature.
If you aren’t already delivering the outdoors — plants excluded — or failing to successfully merge staff, so that they’re able to interact both personally and creatively, we’ve some affordable, simple solutions.
The serene solution
Beekeeping. We agree that at first, the notion of tending to bees may seem overtly biophilic, if not, zany for the sake of it. The previous reaction is particularly expected for if you’re a business in the STEM sector, wanting to be taken seriously. However, well-established firms such as the London Stock Exchange and Fortnum & Mason have been managing hives for a while now, proving there may be many a benefit to the buzz of beekeeping.
The activity influences employees to step outside of office and engage with nature as a collective. Not only is this mood-boosting in itself, but from housing and breeding bees, employees can feel good about contributing to the environment too, during such current geographical upheaval.
For beekeeping to take off, your firm will need an outdoor space; a natural area for your workers to deter to, that is distinctly separate from the technological noise. If your company resides in an urban tower block in the city, then fret not, a balcony or roof top area will suffice. You'll also need a hive, bees, protective clothing and knowledge - you can pick all of that up here.
Create an external set up for employees to inhale fresh air, socialise and connect with wildlife, complete with outdoor seating, leafy flora and lighting. This says to employees that you want them to feel relaxed at work; for when they need five minutes away from their desks, they’re able to have that time for themselves, it’s encouraged.
From a business perspective, keeping bees highlights your green credentials. And what’s more, providing an exterior zone for employees emphasises your ethical values. Both benefits combine to convey how you actively nurture staff wellbeing and engage in eco-friendly practices. They also present your firm positively, enabling your company to stand out amongst akin corporations. Good practice, attracts good business, great employees and even better publicity.
Corporate beekeeping is flourishing so much, that planting pollinator friendly flowers is also picking up. By doing so, firms can provide a greater food source for the newfound surge of bees that are swarming cities. The activity similarly serves as a social outdoor hobby for colleagues to take part in, however isn't as time consuming or demanding perhaps as corporate beekeeping.
Additionally, firms could also utilise exterior spaces by filling them with vegetable patches and gardening decor such as an outdoor shed or greenhouse. This would enforce a ‘home from home’ feel — a popular trend that is consuming modern workforces currently — that is effective in comforting, motivating and retaining staff.
The social solution
If you’ve derelict conference spaces or unused rooms, it’s time to modernise; combine areas into one, singular open-place space and introduce co-working into your workforce.
Co-working brings together skilled, knowledgeable contractors, freelancers or remote workers from existing firms, making for a real-life social cocktail that is bubbling with experiences and opportunity.
The concept is ideal, a one-size-fits-all solution. If you have many remote workers, it gives them an option: to come in and work in-house, amongst like-minded individuals, or to freelance from home - it’s flexible. For if your existing workers choose to operate out of office, then you’ve the investment from external self-employed individuals, who will be using your space and contributing to the financial upkeep of your brick and mortar.
Moreover, the area can also serve other purposes; through implementing multi-use furniture, you can adapt your space so that it suits networking events, extracurricular team-building activities or in-house meetings.
And even with a limited amount of space to work with, businesses can still deliver a comfortable co-working area, fit for both internal and external workers, from implementing the following techniques:
- Expose ductwork to create a larger floor-to-ceiling ratio - this will deliver a rustic, hip design and also convey a room to appear bigger than what it actually is, even if you’ve a small floor perimeter
- If your office comes with a high ceiling, install a mezzanine to provide a second floor — this will ensure there's enough room for everyone, whilst giving off an aesthetic, contemporary touch
- Illuminate and open up your area — if it’s not possible to add extra windows, then introduce reflective materials such as tiles or mirrors — this will produce additional natural lighting, enhancing your space
- Invest in modular furniture; tailor your furnishings so that they fit precisely into designated areas - this will prevent equipment from overwhelming a room, taking up more space than necessary
What do you make of utilising spaces to prioritise social interaction within modern workforces? If you’re looking to increase your internal connectivity by making some simple but effective changes, get in touch with us today.