Despite some employees struggling to adapt to home working, a survey by BCO suggests that most hope to divide their time between their home and their workplaces in future. 62% of senior executives and 58% of entry-level workers want to alternate.
This points towards a hybrid working model, where employees can work from home some days and use the office for certain tasks and events, such as collaborative work or training. This will allow employees to enjoy the autonomy of home working while reaping the benefits of office life.
It may even be the case that the office will provide a “heightened” experience as a way of encouraging employees to come into work more often. Think spaces for meditation and mindfulness, trendy areas for group events like bars and bleacher seating, and facilities for exercise.
More Input from Employees
Over the course of the pandemic, Mind has been encouraging employers to “check in” on employees on a regular basis and request feedback when workplace design, culture and conditions are driving poor mental health.
A blueprint for the future perhaps? If so, it will certainly benefit employees in terms of wellbeing.
Rather than leaders predicting or assuming what is best for employee wellbeing, employees will be able to communicate what they need to be happy, comfortable and productive. This will proactively ensure workplace design will drive positive wellbeing outcomes.
According to figures published on 8 October 2020, 39% of people reported walking more and 38% reported cycling more than before the outbreak of the pandemic. Looking forward, 94% said it was likely that they would continue to cycle and walk more once travel restrictions were removed.
The question is, can office working give employees the same freedom to exercise as home working? There’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case, and certain design changes could make the office a healthier environment on the whole.
One simple solution is for companies to provide bike storage, and some were already introducing exercise areas such as on-site gyms before the pandemic. We were also seeing a drive to promote better ergonomics, including height-adjustable desks.
As for walking, employees aren’t bound to the office of course, and businesses can replicate those country jaunts by bringing in a touch of biophilia with office plants and living walls. Many studies have found the following benefits of office plants:
- Increased productivity
- Reduced blood pressure
- Less stressed
- More energised
Cleaner Air and Better Buildings
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), evidence suggests that we are more likely to contract coronavirus indoors due to harmful droplets getting trapped in enclosed spaces. This is particular to spaces with poor humidity, temperature and dust levels.
This has brought the topic of indoor air quality being to light over the last year, which is something of a positive as far as employee wellbeing goes.
A recent survey by Remark Group, for example, showed that 80% of employees think that poor indoor air quality could be having a negative impact on their health.
Therefore, expect to see businesses taking steps to improve indoor air quality prior to employees returning to the office. This may be a case of introducing technology to measure air quality, installing better ventilation systems and cleaning air ducts on a regular basis.
There may also be a growing interest in building certification schemes such as FitWell, which signals to others that companies prioritise wellness within the design, development and operations of buildings and communities.