How to turn offices into healthy workspaces? Stress, noise, chaos, disgust….these are only some of the concepts which traditionally were related to offices until some years ago. Nevertheless, this paradigm has been changing and today, directors are aware of the value of having nice spaces that make collaborators feel more comfortable. The reason lies on the increasing number of studies proving that this type of places help attain better performance and productivity along with better health indicators.
“It is ever more important to have efficient and above all nice workspaces encouraging people interaction”, explains the president of CBRE Group in Spain, Adolfo Ramírez-Escudero, in an article published by El Mundo. This backs up the idea of being a real concern for organizations regardless of its scope of development.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health not only as the absence of diseases but as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. This means that when talking about health at the workplace, this concept is related to the wellbeing, i.e., with the satisfaction at the workplace.
Now, how do we achieve healthy environments? There is no single recipe because it is always important to first analyse the culture of each organization. However, there are a series of guidelines that can be followed to attain this goal which range from encouraging collaborative areas to studying the acoustic of the place, to list some examples.
Open and collaborative spaces
Offices concerned about the wellbeing of employees also known as “wellness” have all something in common: they give priority to open and collaborative spaces and minimize tables assigned to one single person, something we have oft-repeated in Ofita and, the reason? To encourage team work and boost fellowship and joint goals. All of it to result in lower stress levels and better satisfaction rates favouring mental health.
A study by Harvard Business Review published in Forbes regarding the wellbeing at the workplace pointed out that those professionals working in shared spaces scored one more point in the level of satisfaction than their colleagues working in cubicles. In this sense, the ideal is to offers the necessary tools to this end with ergonomic furniture, digital printing equipment and shared networks.
The study “More than one” by Ofita states that at present collaborative areas taking up to 65% of spaces, showing the boom of this trend. “The number of offices has reduced and the demand of interaction areas has increased considerably”, explains.
Customization is the key – healthy workspaces
As offices are home to different types of activities, the ideal is to have spaces that can be adapted to each of them, under the main premise of the individual treatment of employees. This involves meeting the needs of each of them making them feel more comfortable.
In the next five years we expect offices to be “more human” and adapted to the way millennials understand the labour market and personal life as in 2020 this group will represent 50% of the population of offices. Therefore, a key factor is schedule and of course, spatial flexibility. This consists on the adaptation of workspaces and having furniture according to the needs of the employees and companies themselves.
“We need to treat people individually when meeting different needs. This includes offering closed rooms and individual workstations to people requiring such conditions”, declares the researcher of Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groninge, Jan Gerard Hoendervanger, in an article published in the Webpage of Saint-Gobain Ecophon.
Better acoustic, better performance
Surveys on employees’ satisfaction show that acoustic is among the three main aspects with which people is not satisfied. This is why companies have to guarantee a good noise isolation system of open spaces. If they cannot do it, it is advisable to provide closed spaces to perform duties requiring higher concentration or providing certain privacy such as for example, making telephone calls to a certain client.
Figures show that a good acoustic system can improve motivation when developing duties up to 60% and improve performance during demanding duties up to 50% as mentioned in a study by Saint-Gobain Ecophon.
Healthy workspaces – Further comfort in furniture
As most people spend most part of their days seating in front of a computer, it is important to use the appropriate furniture adapted to their positions and habits to provide better comfort when developing their duties.
The different types of chairs, tables and meeting spaces by Ofita are conceived to favour greater ergonomic, i.e. they adapt to attain greater comfort and efficiency. An example are iSurf tables which incorporate a pull-up panel providing a warm light over the surface of the table to improve visibility of those who sit there to work. Also the multilevel adjustable table which creates an optimal comfort workstation being able to customize it without the use of tools.
In respect of chairs, the whole range of Ofita products is conceived to offer the highest possible ergonomics thanks to its forms, materials and adjustable pieces. The Iroha model for example, is provided with a system that joins arms and lumbar support so when the user sits and adjusts arms to its height, lumbar support is automatically placed in a correct position to avoid injuries. Another example is the Fortis model which has a regulator for armrests both for height and horizontal position, level of the chair and lock of back.
Time to relax
It is a reality that most offices live most part of the day hectic moments. To give some respite to employees it is necessary to offer relax areas where they can go to get out of the routine either to eat a sandwich, chat with other colleagues or simply do some stretching exercises. Those most creative include pool or ping-pong tables that aid not only to clear their minds but also foster emotional ties between the team.
“To introduce something fun in your business model encourages communication and the creation of a sense of belonging. What successful entrepreneurs are discovering is that when people feel a connection with the company, they will be more productive”, as pointed out by Lisa Evans the Canadian journalist in a note published in Entrepreneur.
Given the multiple functionality of duties that can be developed, it is necessary to offer different types of furniture to meet all requirements. Chairs and tables in height that encourage casual conversations as well as sofas with coffee tables favouring long conversations are some examples. It is also useful to place sofas of different sizes to change the position and adopt a relaxed attitude.