When we hear the word “wellness”, most of us think of our physical-being. That is, how healthy our bodies are. This is a huge concern for most working adults in the nation, especially with terrifying reports that detail the risks of sitting in an office environment all day. Companies, too, are beginning to realize how health and physical well-being are playing a vital role in how efficient their employees are. It is beneficial for any company to have healthy employees and, therefore, more companies are offering some sort of wellness program to its employees.
While the importance of physical wellness is becoming more and more recognized, many individuals and many companies are completely neglecting the idea of emotional wellness.
Emotions and the workplace aren’t often thought to mix well. Highly emotional people are seen as volatile and totally unprofessional. It is worth noting, however, that some highly emotional people are often only responding to a workplace environment that simply does not support or even attempt to better their emotional well-being. The solution is to provide a workplace design that promotes positive emotions.
A recent article in Fast Company backs up this assertion and points to a research study completed by Steelcase. This study highlighted that if companies want to positively impact the well-being of their employees, they need to consider both emotional and physical well-being. Or in other words, while offering gym membership discounts is certainly a nice gesture that is sure to be appreciated, it still isn’t enough to promote total well-being. This study also found that one of the major influencers of the emotional well-being of workers is, in fact, the design of their environment.
So what design elements can help to better support the emotional wellness of employees and promote positive feelings that then help the worker to be more creative and productive?
Embracing entrances: While you mostly think of an entrance as a way to greet guests or potential clients, warm and welcoming entrances also have a huge impact on employees without many of them even realizing it. This is something every employee sees every weekday at least once, if not more. Why not make it as beautiful possible so as to instill a greater appreciation every time it’s seen?
Balance of workplaces: Offering designated areas for individual work and collaborative work, respectively, seems to be ideal for limiting distractions, and thereby stress, at work. The best thing that such a set up offers is flexibility, as it allows each individual to have the freedom to decide which environment is best for them for certain tasks. By allowing employees to work in a location that best suits them, they can often do better quality work, as the emotional response to being in control is sure to be positive. Employees will feel empowered with this type of balanced workplace and flexibility.
Reinforce your mission: Whether it’s a quote on the wall that all of your worker’s can see or a large logo with your mission statement underneath, having your mission as part of your office design is a good way to remind workers why they do what they do. Having a purpose is essential. With your company’s purpose on display or reflected in design choices, it will not only motivate workers, but will also reaffirm why they are here and a sense of pride and belonging that are vital to emotional well-being.
Allow free use of technology: Real-time information is important to many employees, as it allows them to feel connected and on top of things, and today this can come from various sources, whether news websites or from social networks. Blocking out technology or forbidding cell phone use sends the message that you do not trust your employees and that you fully expect them to abuse such a freedom. As such, these restrictions are certain to lower morale and promote negative emotions instead of positive ones.
Create customizable spaces: Rooms that allow for employee control over their environment can help to keep workers fully engaged at work. Such customizations include control over temperature, intensity of the lighting and ergonomic/adjustable furniture. This gives employees the freedom to be comfortable and allows them to have increased focus on the tasks at hand.
Have a common space for work gatherings: One of the best ways to encourage positive emotions, and therefore, emotional well-being, is to offer employees a chance to connect with one another. Having a common area, even if it’s just a large breakroom, gives employees a space to gather and to build relationships with one another. Having a friend or two at work has been shown to increase workplace engagement and has a positive impact on employees’ overall well-being.
Don’t forget about physical wellness: Having a more holistic approach to employee wellness means considering both the emotional and physical wellness of your employees. While design mostly impacts emotional wellness, it can also be used to address health concerns. An example of using design to support the physical wellness of your employees is incorporating standing desks or treadmill desks for the employees who would like to use them.