For the majority of us, our lifestyles are counter to our good health and wellbeing. Despite the best of intentions, we spend more time being sedentary than active, more time inside and in-front of screens than outside in the air and sunshine. With greater hours being logged in the office, it’s more important than ever before for the workplace to be a haven for wellness.

AEW Capital  – 50 Pitt Street, Sydney CBD

The most crucial factor when designing a space is the human who will operate within this space – no buts. Some may argue budget, and yes, budget is critical, but a business that focusses on wellness and on caring for their team is a business that will attract talent and ultimately ensure its success.

We’ve looked at five key areas where wellness in the workplace matters most, and can have the greatest effect:

Appreciating Different Working Styles

The modern workplace is a hybrid space, with areas tailored to different working styles and approaches, much like how your home has adapted to suit your various needs (we wouldn’t prepare pancakes in a living room). So too, should the modern workplace support this concept. If staff are based on the road, and time is generally spent working from a laptop, then a stand-up bench with power might work for most.

The concept of neighbourhoods echoes this idea with the added benefit that different environments not only support specific teams in their job roles, but these can cue different thinking pathways (often referred to as lateral, abstract or creative thinking). A designer’s role is to look at the physical environment and how it can better encourage novel ideas, fresh solutions to perceived problems and provide the best physical environment to produce the best work possible.

Generate – 63 Ann Street, Surry Hills

Power of the Person

For a person to do their best work, it is crucial for them to feel in control. A new work environment and working style could generate fear, so it’s important to promote freedom within their role to encourage drive and direction. This freedom can be established in something as simple as the implementation of meeting room or hot desk booking software. Allowing staff to book their preferred workspace, as opposed to being tied down to the same desk day after day is an effective way of letting someone determine their schedule and their mindset.

The same goes with a sit-to-stand working point. The movement between sitting and standing, allows for the user to control their immediate working environment. A side benefit of this is the internal effect the actual psychical movement has. Yogis have long practised certain poses for their beneficial ‘rinsing’ affects to internal organs.

Travelport – 580 George Street, Sydney

Flexible Working Practices

The IWG 2019 Global Workspace Survey assessed flexible working, its use, benefit and obstacles and found that flexible working hours and locations “helps employees find focus”. Distractions, like noise and activity often go hand in hand with shared and open workplaces (the standard in working practices now). Flexibility to choose when and where to work helps to counterbalance these workplace distractions.

In addition to this, the IWG survey noted that greater flexibility resulted in boosted productivity, higher talent retention and greater business agility (through reducing capex and opex). Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs echoes this sentiment; “companies of all types – private, public, non-profit or startup – continue to recognize the bottom-line benefits of integrating remote work into their business strategies.”

With 74% of Australian respondents viewing ‘flexible working to be the new normal’ (), it is imperative that businesses adapt to the demand from the workplace, and for the physical environment be designed to support these practices.

Culture of Self Care

In 2018, Apple listed ‘self-care’ as a trend, and it’s one that certainly looks like it’s staying. As more people prioritize their health and well-being in their personal life, it’s a quick transition (which has already started) for businesses to follow suit. According to Marian Spencer, Head of Operations, People and Culture at the Black Dog Institute, “initiatives that focus on maximizing employees mental and physical health bring benefit for both the individual and the employer.

Self-care can help prevent burnout from work, help address and manage stress levels, and boost feelings of self-worth and confidence – all approaches associated with better working practices and higher efficiency levels.

However, a Harvard Business Review article notes that the encouragement for wellness in the workplace needs to reflect attitudes to working hours for companies to see the benefit; culture for wellness needs to correspond with work schedules and this encouragement needs to be across all areas of the business, in attitude and practice.

Leapfrog Investments – 35 Grafton Street, Bondi

Environment: Air & Light

Last but definitely not least – the physical environment is crucial to the wellness workplace. Optimising the physical environment to meet two basic needs – access to good quality air and light – is key to the success of any space, allowing us as human beings to thrive. With people spending approximately 90% (WELL Report V2) of their time in enclosed spaces, these two factors are critical.

The design and construction industry are in a powerful position as caretakers, designing and building spaces that promote good health, but so too are employers. Too often, the bottom-line ($) is the deciding factor in the creation of new spaces. We understand, that’s it’s difficult to justify cost on something that you can’t really see or feel, but ultimately, all research points to good quality air and light as the most fundamental requirements to human health and wellbeing. These are two points where there should be no compromise.

Software AG – 201 Miller Street, North Sydney

Unfortunately, far too many businesses are falling short on the above and in doing so, they’re failing to see the limitations they’re setting for themselves. According to Mark Dixon, IWG Founder and CEO, businesses “need to embrace a flexible working culture…on some level in order to stay competitive”, embracing wellness approaches to their business and their space.

With Wellness Month having just passed, there’s no reason why we can’t be a champion for change everyday, bringing wellness to the forefront of business discussions. And if you need a hand, give Morphos a call – we’re always happy to discuss ways you can improve your current space, or how to plan for your new space.