“Is my workspace healthy, safe, and engaging?”
This is the question today’s working population is asking themselves.
Prolonged remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a shift in employee needs. While working from home, the workforce felt isolated, misunderstood, and disconnected from their workplace. But, on the brighter side, they also enjoyed the freedom, security, and comfort offered by remote working. As employees now make the big return to offices, they want to continue enjoying the flexibility and health benefits offered by remote working. Employees are expecting their companies to be more empathetic and go the extra mile to take care of them. To address these concerns, it is important to rethink offices and regenerate workplaces as healthy, reliable, and encouraging spaces.
What are Regenerative Workplaces?
As the name suggests, regenerative workplaces imply renewing or restoring offices to suit evolving employee needs. The key areas of focus in this regeneration process include:
- Health, Well-Being, and Safety
- Motivation and Energy
- Communication and Interaction
- Company Culture and Leadership Strategy
The purpose of regenerative workplaces is to reinstate employee well-being and achieve organizational resilience that ultimately contributes to the company’s progress.
Is Workplace Regeneration a Necessity for You?
As an industry leader, if you are wondering, “Does my workspace need regeneration?”, then use the below questions to aid your decision.
- Is your employee productivity rate decreasing?
- Are you witnessing a rise in the number of sick leaves?
- Is talent retention becoming a pressing issue in your company?
- Are your employees struggling with work-life balance?
- Are you finding it difficult to re-establish the lines of communication?
If your answer to most of these questions is a solid “yes”, then regenerating your workplace can help ease your pain points.
The above statistics reflect that regenerative workplaces make the company become profitable in the long run. It is a worthwhile investment that improves employee performance and helps retain talent.
How to Create a Regenerative Workplace?
For organizations to become sustainable, it is important that they identify opportunities to improve and uncover risks before the entire system disintegrates. To achieve this, employee well-being should be viewed as a coagulation of physical health, mental health, and social health. Efficient workspace design in combination with various metaphysical elements will help in making employees feel more healthy and productive.
Creating Workplaces to Regenerate Physical Health
Enhance the physical attributes of your workspace by rethinking your floor layout, furniture ergonomics, access to natural light, adequacy of ventilation, and visual aesthetics. Having an open floor plan promotes flexibility in movement, and eases communication and monitoring. Making provision for height-adjustable workstations with moveable chairs assures that the employees are comfortably seated while working. Providing ambient natural lighting in the offices helps in reducing the dependency on artificial lighting and enhances productivity. Installing air filters and making provisions for openable windows can help in regulating indoor air quality.
Register for company-wide wellness programs offered by leading industry players such as Wellable, Kazoo, and Bonusly. In case of unforeseen health crises such as that posed by COVID- 19 provide well-rounded health insurance policies that provide benefits for the employees as well as their families.
Creating Workplaces to Regenerate Mental Health
Rethink your office design in a manner that helps employees to maintain good mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a traumatic experience for everyone. People have suffered the loss of life, loved ones, jobs, money, and many intangible things. Grief, stress, anxiety, fear, and depression have swamped the working population. Workplaces can help in relieving these mental health issues by creating holistic spaces. Introducing landscape in the office helps in reducing stress and purifying the air. Office designs can incorporate terraces and gardens where people can take regular breaks from work and feel refreshed. Let employees have lunch in a well-lit canteen where they can have fun conversations with their colleagues. Make room for a games lounge, meditation area, spas, counseling rooms, and gyms to ensure that employees are given the space to rejuvenate.
In December 2020, Capillary Technologies- a Singapore-based SaaS engagement company announced an 11-day Vipassana leave for its employees to promote mental health and well-being. Companies such as Infosys, Kellogg India, and Dalmia have introduced new mental health offerings in their portfolio. Employers must consider providing meditation leaves, bereavement leave, menstrual leaves, and digital detox times to their workforce. Employees must be encouraged to eat healthy foods by providing personalized meal plans. This will ensure that employees are well-nourished and energized to be more productive at work.
Creating Workplaces to Regenerate Social Health
Employee communication and engagement are crucial for the success of any business. Remote working has made people feel lonely and unrecognized. Many newly hired employees have a difficult time putting faces to their names. Informal conversations and team bonding activities help employees to have a sense of belonging. Therefore, creating spaces for interaction such as conference rooms and meeting areas is essential. Make provision for coworking desks and collaboration pods by introducing flexible furniture in the office.
Hosting weekly motivational talks can help to induce a sense of shared responsibility towards each other and towards the company. It will align the workforce with the larger purpose of the company. Thoughtfully bringing down physical barriers and opening the lines of communication can immensely help in making employees feel safe at their workplace.
Case in Point
In recent times, LinkedIn has been in the limelight for its exceptional wellness programs which are based on the six key principles- thoughts, movement, nutrition, breathing, rest, and hydration. Below is a description of how these 6 principles work in cohesion to improve employee health.
Through mindful and healthy thinking, LinkedIn encourages activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and off-screen time for its employees. For the purpose of movement, LinkedIn provides standing workstations and walking meetings. They strategically place stationary and amenities on the other side of the office to make employees walk. Employees at LinkedIn have access to healthy and nutritious food. They make an effort to separate healthy snacks from the “not-so-healthy” ones and keep the latter out of reach to encourage mindful eating habits. Further, LinkedIn puts special emphasis on breathing well by installing breathing monitors to help employees track their breathing patterns. Employees at LinkedIn have access to fruit and vegetable-induced water in the break rooms which is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks and helps to keep them hydrated.
Developing engagement and wellness strategies should be at the forefront of corporate agendas. For this purpose, a one-size-fits-all approach for regenerating workplaces helps none. Conduct surveys to understand your employee psyche, family dynamics, and professional goals. Let this lay the foundation for a sustainable regenerative workplace strategy that engrains a new culture of individual and collective responsibility for overall workforce wellness.
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Pragya Sharma, is a talented architectural writer and an invaluable content collaborator at Zyeta. She expresses her thoughts and ideas effectively across various mediums like blogs, social media, web content, and workshops. By joining forces with Zyeta, she creates compelling narratives that amplify the evolving importance of design in today's world.