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Office Design and Workplace Wellbeing

If you were to conduct a survey of employees asking what their number one most desired office perk would be, what would you expect from the results? Flexi-time? A free canteen? Onsite child care? A games area with pool tables, hammocks and a bar? These may all appear on a wish list but they aren’t the number one most desired office characteristic.

A recent survey carried out by an HR advisory firm, Future Workplace, of 1,614 office based employees asked a similar question: what is the most important attribute of your ideal workplace environment?

And the answer? Natural light.

The negative responses provide the insight as to why natural light is held is such high esteem: 47% of employees reported that they feel tired or very tired with the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% said they feel gloomy when there is a lack of light. With over a third of employees identifying they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace, the study concluded that the absence of natural light and outdoor views is detrimental to the employee experience.

Dr Victoria Revell from the University of Surrey provides some clinical insight into why natural light is so important:

“Light is critical for our health and wellbeing. Ensuring that we receive adequate light levels at the appropriate time of day benefits our alertness, mood, productivity, sleep patterns and many aspects of our physiology.”

Artificial light is no replacement; sunlight is between 50,000 and 100,000 lux (the measurement unit of light), compared to a normal light bulb which is 250 to 500 lux. A lack of natural daylight can impact on our ability to sleep well, think clearly, our hormones and the regulation of our blood pressure and glucose levels.

When we take all of this into account it makes complete sense why so many workers would like more access to this basic human need. During the summer months we may still get enough sunlight in the mornings and evenings, but during the winter we can leave home and return from work in the dark. Couple this with the amount of daytime hours people spend in the work place and you can see why it is vital that your office design or refurbishment puts natural light at the forefront of employee health and well-being.

Is Your Office Killing You?

The work place of today is generally a safe environment for the majority of employees. Health and Safety is taken seriously and the well-being of employees is covered comprehensively by legislation making your job as safe as possible.

And yet a recent study carried out by the University of Arizona and the Baylor College of Medicine has established that your office design has a direct impact on how much you move in a working day and how high your stress levels are.

If we revisit the medical claims that a sedentary lifestyle is shortening our lives and couple this with a work space that does nothing to encourage movement then the rather dramatic title of this post begin to make sense.

The study concentrated on examining how workers moved during a typical day in three different working environments: private offices (a separate room), cubicles (desks separated by high-walled partitions) and open bench seating arrangements with workers out in the open and next to fellow employees.

Flying in the face of the current opposition to the open plan office, the study demonstrated that workers in the open bench seating set-up were 32% more physically active at work than those in private offices, and 20% more active than those in cubicles.

The research also demonstrated the link between movement at work and corresponding stress levels after work, with those who were more physically active during the day experiencing 14% less physiological stress after they left the office compared to the workers with less physical activity.

So should we be tearing down the office walls and the office partitions to get our workforce more active?

Well, not yet - the researchers concluded that the largest contributory factor to the open bench workers increased mobility was their desire to seek out private quiet spaces for breaks. The intensity of working in such an open environment with no barriers between you and your co-workers means that you are far more likely to get up and walk away from your work station than if you have the privacy and self-regulating noise levels of your own private office.

What is key to this study is how much office design impacts upon the well-being of your staff, both physically and psychologically and therefore how important it is to ensure that you have the best commercial design for your company's needs.

 

 

 

 

5 Office Relocation Design Ideas

It’s almost 18 months now since we moved our offices. The 20six office relocation was required because we had outgrown our older office space. Moving forward with bigger and better projects, we needed a workspace to accommodate not just all the team but also some of the office furniture that we recommend to our clients.

This was a great opportunity for us as we took on an empty unit and were able to design a bespoke office based upon our exact requirements. Contrary to the popular cliché, it isn’t just about location, location, location – the design aspect is as crucial in the process and we have 5 tips on getting this part right.

5 Design Tips For Your Office Relocation

1: Areas For All: On any given working day it is likely employees will have a variety of tasks to perform, and will require breaks. Providing your staff with quite spaces to work on high concentration tasks, spaces where they can all get together for meetings, and smaller break out areas for less formal get togethers will allow people the right space for the task at hand.

2: Access For All: As well as providing the right working areas for the majority of staff, provision must be made for everybody. Our attention was drawn to a recent news article about a young man who had difficulty getting on to a catering course at his local college as the college would have to make significant changes to adapt to his personal needs. When designing your new commercial space make sure you have taken the needs of as many people into account as you can.

3: Affinity For All: Your workspace has to reflect your company branding and business values. Your affinity to your brand can be demonstrated to clients by how your office looks when they come to visit you, and/or how you portray your workspace on your website. You have to take into account how the design reflects the market that you are in – you may like the idea of pool tables, an open bar, comfy, brightly coloured, low rise settees but if you are a serious financial marketing company this could give off the impression of being laisse-faire in your professionalism.

4: Acceptable For All: We all have a responsibility to our immediate workforce and to those outside of our organisations – creating a greener work space will help bring out the creativity and productiveness of your staff, will help your business save money in the long-term, and will be one more step to making work place environments more sustainable.

5: Accessories For All: Your office furniture, fixtures and fittings play an integral part in the overall aesthetics, and in how your staff use your facilities. We are huge advocates of ergonomic office furniture and accessorising your office with items such as office pods will help you to achieve those quite spaces we mentioned above. The accessories in an office may be large or small but all will play a part in how well the design works for you and your employees.

Here at 20six, quite apart from moving ourselves, we have extensive experience of helping a wide range of companies successfully relocate their offices, so if you would like any assistance in your own office move please get in touch.

Congratulations Cockleshell Endeavour

Crack open the Champagne! We had confirmation late last night the Mick and Sparky have done it - they have rowed 2,400 miles across the Pacific ocean, hunkered down to ride out Hurricane Lane and spend 82 days together in their boat, Bojangles.

As if the row wasn't challenging enough, Sparky can now wear the crown of the first blind person to row across the Pacific. Once back on terra firma they continued to act as the proper gentlemen that they are and gave over 5 hours of media interviews to, amongst others, CBS, ITV News, Channel 5 News, Good Morning Britain, the ITV and BBC news programmes in Sussex, Devon and Lincolnshire and BFBS.

And the icing on the cake is that they have raised over £10,000 for their charities, Blind Veterans UK and The Royal Marines Charity.

We are so proud of their achievements - a real inspiration to us all. There is still time to add your donation to their funds: Cockleshell Endeavour Just Giving Page

Here are some of the images the guys have shared on their Facebook Page - we're looking forward to welcoming back home where The Coach House have promised their pints are awaiting them.

Well done guys!

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