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Putting wellbeing at the heart of the workplace

Here Oliver Ronald, Sales & Marketing Director at Boss Design, explains why employee wellbeing has led to a rethink in workplace design and office furniture.

For many of us, a large chunk of our lives is spent at the office, and as such, it can have a major impact on our work-life balance and wellbeing. Quite simply, when we’re happy and healthy, we work better. However, when our wellbeing is threatened in both physical and mental terms, absenteeism at work soars and, ultimately, we find ourselves looking for the next job.

Hence, it makes perfect business sense for organisations to create a work culture and environment that makes us feel valued and supported in our work roles. Not only does this serve to foster our own individual health and wellbeing, it can have a significant impact on the company’s productivity and, more importantly, on its bottom line. Indeed, statistics show that the cost to a company with poor employee wellbeing can be significant. As well as the cost of lost productivity from sick days, there’s also added recruitment and training costs associated with a high turnover of staff.

If businesses with healthy and happy workers enjoy high levels of staff morale and productivity and, ultimately, enjoy healthy long-term profitability, it makes sense for the workplace to be an environment that we can engage with and feel comfortable in. An environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, innovation, joyfulness and thoughtfulness.



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One of the first steps to achieving wellbeing in the workplace is to create settings or habitats by considering how people manage their work, and the enabling of technologies. This is based on the premise that we need to be able to easily switch our mode of focus – be it concentrating, learning, socialising or collaborating – in order to stay fulfilled and productive. By creating habitats and furnishing these with appropriate furniture to support us in all our activities during the course of day, not only will enhance wellbeing, but will also lead to a more streamlined and connected workplace.

For many of us, it’s no longer the norm to be confined to working in a specific place for a set period of time, and this new-found freedom has opened the door to new ways of working that are impacting significantly upon workplace design and furniture specification.



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Mobile workers don’t necessarily need their own desk, but when they are in the office they need a place to perform individual work. Typically, we may work at home one or two days a week, and spend the rest of the week hot-desking between offices and utilising cloud-based services to conduct our work. Instead of fixed desks, the solution is to provide touchdown or breakout facilities where we have access to relevant tools and technology. Enabling employees to take control of how their space is used, this furniture provides an ergonomically-sound alternative to sitting at a desk or a table, and can be either stand alone or grouped together to create flexible spaces for a modern workplace. This furniture is ideal for nomadic workers armed with laptops, tablets and mobile phones, enabling them to work anywhere they want to.

As communication and collaboration continue to be two of the key driving forces behind the design of seating and furniture in the workplace today, workstations are becoming smaller to enable larger common spaces, and soft office seating has grown to accommodate this trend.



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High-backed meeting booths and standalone personal high-back seating solutions are hugely popular and great for breaking up large, open-plan spaces. While their primary purpose is to serve head-down focus work, they also support one-on-one collaboration and the ability to turn an individual’s work surface into a table where a visiting colleague can fit a notebook and cup of coffee. Likewise, unassigned touch-down spaces, which may be open or enclosed, offer a modicum of visual and acoustical privacy and the ability to support individual work or one-on-one meetings. To further aid collaboration, it’s important that vertical surfaces feature throughout the workplace. From meeting booths and pods to standalone media walls that offer TV, video and online facilities, or a fixed whiteboard, a variety of technological functions should also be made available.

There’s also a growing trend towards freestanding glass-fronted meeting pods that help continue the flow of nomadic working patterns and teamwork. Whether working in solitude, focusing on a concentrated task, or working as a small group, they also offer the intimacy and privacy that is vital for today’s modern methods of working and are extremely conducive to wellbeing. Some pods even feature a human centric lighting system that acts to change the colour and intensity of white light in the pod in accordance with people’s natural circadian rhythms.



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While workplaces are trending toward open and flexible environments, it’s also important to remember the need for quiet, private spaces. Privacy remains important in the workplace for confidential discussions, quiet phone calls and the times when we just need to focus alone without disturbance. A palette of open and private spaces accommodates people’s need for both collaboration and concentration, with individual users making their choices as required by the work at hand. Telephone pods provide a much-needed place to concentrate and make private calls; encouraging creative and individual working – both vital for a more productive working environment and our wellbeing.

These are just some of the examples in which workplace design and office furniture can impact on our wellbeing. Wellbeing is fundamental to productivity and will impact on a company’s business results. By introducing habitats to the workplace and making the right furniture choices, our various modes of working will be supported, and our individual and corporate wellbeing will flourish. A better work-life balance begins in the workplace.

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boss-design.co.uk

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