If you run a business and employ people, staff wellbeing has to be a top priority. What was previously viewed as a loose given has become more measurable in recent years. In other words, you can't just pay lip-service, your attitude and performance with regard to staff wellbeing is usually noted and, often, assessed. If you are seen to fail in this area, you immediately downgrade yourself as an employer and you can do lasting damage to your brand.
So what exactly defines wellbeing and why is it so important to consider this prior to undertaking an office design and fit-out?
Wellbeing is a bit of a buzz phrase at the moment. If you keep an ear out, you'll hear it bandied around the public sector at large, in areas such as health and education. It's recognized by the media (look out for the health and wellbeing sections in the newspapers) as well as in general working life but it can be used as a bit of a catch all. Covering health and happiness and what is generally good for us, it's all encompassing and can be attached to pretty much anything.
So, if you put wellbeing in the context of the work environment, we're broadly talking about creating what is a nice environment for people to work in; an environment that we look forward to entering and that we can enjoy being in that doesn't have any adverse effect on our health. Bearing that in mind, considerations should cover everything from being warm enough or cool enough to whether the office décor is nice and bright.
If we start getting into specifics, workspaces should be well ventilated, with lots of natural light - these are the very basics. We can then move onto the non-essentials that simply make it pleasant - lay out, state-of the-art technology, modern, clean facilities, welcoming décor and adequate break out areas and spaces to eat and relax in.
Once basic needs have been covered, along with what makes an office attractive and pleasant, we need to consider what can best improve each specific space. In an open plan environment, for instance, it's really important to be able to offer workers a degree of privacy for when they are making important business calls or during break periods. Just giving individuals that option of some private space, alongside shared working accommodation, is invaluable.
PromotIng wellbeing is crucial to office design and fit out as it is proven that working in an optimum environment has a positive impact on productivity. Happy members of staff make for better outcomes. Also, you are more likely to retain key team players if you offer them an attractive working environment as well as getting a better standard of work from them if their needs are met.
Part of our role at Saracen is to empathise with the needs of the client and work with the facilities and office managers to plan space around the various functions of the business. Our clients come to us because, as workspace specialists, we are expert at thinking around the structure of how the business is run and planning the space accordingly - ultimately, it's our job to make the space work and help to improve wellbeing in the workplace and so we have to climb into their skin to find out what works best for everyone. In as much as we have absorbed wellbeing into our vocabulary, we need to own it in our practices.