Gone are the days of hard gruelling work and clock watching during a 9 - 5:30 job. Businesses across the world are introducing wellness programmes in various capacities from more relaxed rules around working from home, helping parents with flexibility around family life, to introducing office yoga; anything to encourage increased productivity in employees.
As more research and evidence is released surrounding the links between mental health and happiness and productivity in the workplace, it’s important to ensure you are actively cultivating a space and culture where employees are stoked to come to work and motivated to get the job done. Mars NZ are a great example as they promote the concept that flexibility in getting the job done breeds a culture of happy employees - needless to say, winning the best workplace of the year for numerous consecutive years means they must be doing something right!
As a small startup company, we always put the health and wellbeing of our staff first and we’ve learned a few things along the way which are really important for keeping our staff motivated with the intention of creating a positive and exciting office culture that all our staff want to be a part of, from perfecting the coffee grind so our employees can drink great coffee for free to shooting nerf guns across the office to promote a playful and fun environment.
In this post, we’ve outlined 8 office wellness hacks which are curated specifically to help you think about other ways to keep your staff happy and motivated and improve productivity (and hopefully your bottom line along with it!) in the workplace.
#1 Fresh air and natural light
Having air con and heating systems running all day long and cooping up employees in small cubicles without access to natural light can create a dark and stale environment. In a Human Spaces Report, it was found that people who are exposed to natural light have a 15% higher level of wellbeing than those who work in environments devoid of nature. It can feel unavoidable in certain weather conditions and seasons but it's good to be conscious that fresh air can help boost mood and productivity and ensure at times when fresh air and sunlight may be less accessible (like winter for example) that solutions are put in place to help employees achieve those. Ensure there is a source of fresh air and natural light for your employees; whether you have windows which can be opened or a balcony / rooftop space where your staff and head to get some fresh air and work in the shade with their laptop if they want to.
#2 Indoor plants
Just as natural light is important, biophilia (meaning a love of life or living things) is fast becoming a buzzword in the world of workplace feng shui. It's well known that nature can alleviate feeling of stress, improve mental stamina, enable better focus and productivity but global research findings in the same Human Spaces Report advised that 'natural elements positively linked to creativity at work'. Whether it’s ensuring there are plenty of plants in the workspace, a (well-behaved!) dog, aquarium or even just beautiful photographs of stunning natural scenery; all of the aforementioned have the ability to lift our spirits and help us feel relaxed and creative which can only boost productivity.
#3 Fruit bowl & Herbal tea options
Providing a fruit bowl and herbal tea options helps promote healthy wellbeing among staff, with the benefit of your staff feeling cared for. While Friday beers and chocolate or doughnuts can be a welcome treat for staff (we love both of those too!), providing a healthy option on a daily basis shows that you really care about their wellbeing. Herbal teas can pack a punch of health benefits, so let your staff get creative with the selection and hand the reigns over to them to choose which ones they'd like to see in the kitchen selection.
#4 Going minimal
Human Spaces Report also found that minimalism was most often cited (38%) as the style of building design that would inspire at work. If we then start to think about how we can streamline processes in the office, along with the design, a simple visitor management system could be the perfect fit. Not only can you have an easy-to-use employee in out board but the visitor management system allows visitors to sign in easily, sending an email and SMS notification (optional) to the member of staff being visited. By taking the first step towards a more automated workspace with a visitor management system, it becomes easy to introduce more advanced tech later on.
#5 Create an art buying committee
A bright and colourful workspace is proven to have positive implications on productivity and mood. So why not launch an art buying committee for you workspace so everyone can have some input into how you dress up your office? Having small teams who choose the art will not only help with workplace relationships but will also help build relationships with the local artist community. And it doesn't have to be a quick fix, it could be a year or two long project which always helps make the budget go a bit further.
#6 Outdoors hour
How about designating one hour a week for your staff to spend outdoors? This is next level biophilia in the workplace! Allowing your employees the freedom to get offsite and spend time with nature. Encourage them to spend one hour on work time getting out and doing something outside - even better, doing the activity with colleagues and having the opportunity to talk about work-related ideas or just bonding as a team! So if the surf is good, encourage them to spend a spontaneous hour outside, if they want to get out for an ocean swim, go rock climbing or just for a countryside walk or bike ride give them the option to spend their one hour of outdoors time wisely to fill the body with endorphins and the lungs with fresh or salty air!
#7 The stand up desk
A much debated topic in many workplaces (because for some, it just doesn't align with the budget to start giving everyone one), the stand up desk is a workplace wonder. For anyone with back problems who struggles to sit for long periods of time, or equally for the person in tip top health without those back problems who just can't sit still all day long, it’s a welcome relief. Not only that, but its proven to help reduce tiredness and boost productivity. It's not even necessary to get everyone one - you could have a designated standing desk area with perhaps two desks with a hot desk approach to those stations.
#8 Office yoga
Before your mind wanders there, we’re not suggesting everyone play yoga mat tetris in between the office furniture. Find a designated space, whether that’s a meeting room, a showroom, or an unfurnished area of an open plan office - it’s amazing what spaces you can turn into a yoga studio when you clear a few desks and lay down those yoga mats! Most yoga teachers these days are very adaptable and it's common to see them rocking up at corporate workspaces carrying their yoga mats and good vibes aplenty. If you don't have wellness budget, you could ask everyone to chip in and make office yoga happen that way either before work, during a lunch hour or after work.
Photo credit: Feature image Tim Goedhart
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