If you knew at 18 that you were likely to spend 92,000 hours of your life in an office, or say about a third of your total waking hours over your adult working lifetime, what sort of office environment would you choose to work in?
According to one A level sociology student, that’s the typical average of working hours for a UK adult starting paid employment at age 18 and retiring at 67. It is a fifth of a ‘typical’ person’s life (not including sleep), apparently.
That’s a major chunk of time, and a major influence on office workers’ health and wellbeing.
So much of the media’s interest these days is on technology, and how tech is not necessarily our friend when it comes to our wellbeing, especially our mental health. Younger people know this better than most, we find – the new generations coming into the workplace now are acutely aware of the importance of healthy, positive working environments with technology that makes them feel great, not ground down.
At Fusion Spaces we believe in using technology to boost workplace wellbeing. So here are just four simple but effective changes, which employers can implement to improve wellbeing at work for their employees, young and old:
1. Stand up, stretch out, go Free Range
Working in a typical office will usually require employees to sit in front of a computer for a significant period. Standing desks can be an ideal way to put an end to the habit of being sedentary for a large portion of the day, reducing back pain and helping to boost mood and energy levels.
Moving at least once an hour should be encouraged, along with taking a walk at lunchtime to get out into nature if at all possible – even on industrial estates you can usually find a patch of grass and trees somewhere to sit out on a sunny day.
Here at Fusions Spaces we encourage what we call ‘free range working’. This involves lots of movement, space to be creative and calm, and an end to battery-farm office environments.
But even if your business doesn’t have the space or external environment to facilitate all that, do check out standing desks – you can find a good selection of ergonomic desks from one of our Fusionaries.
2. Can’t get out? Bring the outside in
If you can’t get outside much during your working day, then bringing the outside in can help workplace wellbeing too.
The 14 patterns of biophilic design include living walls, natural texture and views of nature to help reconnect us with the outdoors. Afterall, we were originally designed to be outside hunting and gathering, and our bodies and souls need that connection to the natural world to perform at our best.
Check out our Fusionaries – the people and organisations we work with to bring our vision of the stress-less workplace to life. They are our technical and wellbeing partners, and several of them are specialists in biophilic design.
3. Improve lighting to tackle SAD
Given how much time we are typically spending indoors, the darker, drearier months of the year can certainly impact on all of us in the UK, due to the lack of natural light. The lack of light in winter can disrupt our circadian rhythm causing stress, anxiety and depression. This is a well-known affliction known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
To combat this, specialist lighting has been developed which mimics natural light. Light tunnels are also another great way to pipe natural daylight into even the darkest of corners.
But it’s not just any old light. Different colours of light also affect how we feel. For example, blue light makes us feel more alert whereas warmer colours such as amber make us feel sleepy. There are lighting systems available that change colour through the day to help get maximum performance and wellbeing at work.
4. Screen out the stress
Working on a computer every day of the week, constantly focused on a screen, can have a negative influence on our health. Issues such as eye fatigue, headaches and muscle strain are all fairly common within the office environment.
Regular screen breaks, adjusting your screen height and brightness, and adding an anti-glare filter on a screen can all have a very positive impact.
So now you’ve read this, how about a quick walk?
PS. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in every 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. This great resource from Mind (downloadable PDF) offers employers guidance on how to promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems.