Healthier, happier offices are ones that employees remember (and, importantly, want to come back to). The kinds of meaningful change that employers want, and often desire, can start with office design, but what concludes them abruptly is poor policy planning and execution.
Regardless of how often an employee is working from the office, making sure your environment supports their role and daily work is critical. Whilst this concept isn’t a new headline, how employers are only just starting to level up their office to support wellbeing represents a changing spirit in how workplaces are operating in the UK.
The ‘office’ is a broad definition for the space we occupy to produce work; but it’s the detail in the design and layout that can change just how productive an employee becomes. Nowadays, employers are challenging how we view the office to open the scope of design and layout suggestions to support employee wellbeing.
An employee’s workflow – from how daily tasks are scheduled down to meetings in the calendar – is no longer the only influence on their wellbeing. It’s a truism that, in the best cases, work summons a deep passion, which can be both a source of pride and satisfaction for an employee. When work is celebrated, it’s a part of an employee’s identify – it’s equal parts a product of their talent and a way for them to express themselves professionally. What is the responsibility of an employer to support this, and how can they use the office to support a healthier, happier experience at work?
“Workplace wellbeing” has outgrown its role as a topical buzzword and, nowadays, it represents a philosophy for thinking about how work relates to health and wellbeing. This is being used to encourage workplaces – across different settings, industries and more – to think about the various impacts of work on employee health and wellbeing. Post-pandemic employee wellbeing reached fever pitch, insofar as employees now look for happier, healthier relationships with their careers (and all it entails). This is topic close to mental health, which motivated Mind.org to release a public “index” on the status of employee health and which policies are drivers for positive change. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) explore the deep links that connect employee health to their work. There’s enough here to support growing agendas, produce new policies, survey employee attitudes to work, and restructure your entire approach to employee wellbeing.
Thinking large on the concept of employee wellbeing can lead employers to stray from the routes that most directly support their employees. That’s because the theory of employee wellbeing is harder to act upon, whereas takeaways on the office offers an opportunistic starting point.
Your reception is a gateway to your business and one of the earliest touchpoints an employee has with your office. Not only will it filter, or manage, visitors and their expectations, but it’s designed to impactfully start (and nurture) an employee’s experience. It’s often believed that the majority of first impression happen in the reception of a building; the influx of visitors, their interactions, and how the front of house team skilfully moulds expectations.
For those with shared buildings, or city office, your workplace will likely receive a large population of visitors (including clients, deliveries, and staff). That’s where service relevance comes into play: having the right support teams to work with visitors and employees on arrival can make all the difference. This means creating a welcoming experience, and on that support the themes of security and safety.
Reception, or front of house, is just this. It’s all about the overall experience. Offer your employees something memorable, and work with these health goals in mind – are you creating an office that employees feel supported by?
A clean, hygienic workplace setting is mission critical, which now feels more like a matter of compliance than it ever has before. But employers should try to better understand how its remit has widened; ‘hygiene’ has levelled up from its roots in basic cleaning to encompass an entirely more strategic approach to office health. This means cleaning is equal parts waste management, it can touch on sustainability polices, and even moves into the frequency of planned cleaning and the thoroughness and effectiveness of cleaning sessions.
It’s likely that many of your employees may feel uneasy about the prospect of a phased return to the office. Lingering paranoia, a product of the pandemic, has left many feeling anxious about the future of office-based work. A commitment to keeping your office hygiene up-to-date can help reassure employees.
Establishing security best practice is about assuring employee safety. This about confidence in a workplace, where security that’s effective will ensure that employees don’t second guess their safety when they’re at work.
The word ‘security’ may require a little expansion. It’s not about the illusion that a building is guarded, but physical security should have a presence and one that’s noticeable enough that it leaves employees feeling safe. What kinds of activities should security involve? Employers should be thinking about everything from basic visitor regulation to carpark patrols.
Proactive leaders can stand out (from a crowd of similar executives) when they empower employee wellbeing through their office, the services that support it, and by understanding those who are impacted by change.
Design offices that are memorable. This can be done by focussing on employee happiness, productivity, and wellbeing – these can be hard to deliver to a workplace. For the bits of an office that feel undervalued, the assistance of facilities management services can help promote these goals from the inside out.