How healthy is your workspace?

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A healthy workspace is essential to productivity, creating quality work and keeping employees happy and motivated. It is important to promote a healthy workspace in your office, especially with “wellness” a very sought-after quality with job seekers currently. A healthy workspace doesn’t necessarily mean sterile and germ-free, but an incorporation of health and safety, diversity, ‘vibe’ and functionality.

According to the World Health Organisation a healthy workplace is an office that would address physical and psychosocial risks – it would also promote and support healthy behaviours – so a healthy workplace is basically a space where collaboration, health, safety and wellbeing of employees is promoted.

Many workplaces around the globe are looking at diversifying workspaces from the traditional office layout. Many may have heard of Google’s offices around the world where they have slides and poles to get between levels, and a raft of extra spaces to enjoy that other companies could only dream about providing, but they have also included some great features that many other companies are taking note of.

Some of these include open-plan office spaces or break out areas to encourage collaboration, a library or an aquarium for a quiet space and a workout area to encourage healthier employees. Nobody is suggesting trying to keep up with Google, but simple changes to the office environment can offer staff diverse spaces to work from and to enjoy, enhancing their work life experience, with overall happier staff leading to better productive outcomes.

Those that work in an office can spend upwards of seven hours per day sitting in the same spot. This means that they are doing a lot of repetitive tasks and engaging in behaviours that may cause ergonomic injuries. When employees have more options in their workspace to encourage collaboration within their team, those choices are both mentally and physically stimulating and promote healthier wellbeing not just for the individual, but for the whole team.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when considering making changes for a better office health rating. Plants, artwork and even floor mats can be simple contributors that can add to the feel of the space. Obviously providing good furniture and ergonomic keyboards is a great idea, but also think about having some tables that provide a collaborative space rather than everybody just collaborating from their desks.

Providing pictures of stretching exercises that can be done while standing at the photocopier for 30 seconds at a time all help contribute to healthier staff. Just moving from your desk to a different area can help.

Promotion of employee’s health is essential to the success of a healthier office.

Natural light is essential to a healthy workspace too, but if natural light is limited, schedule regular intervals to go outside and get some fresh air. Get active at work and offer up spaces where you can have a stretch or take a break away from the desk or main office space.

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor area in your office then use this advantage too. It should be made to feel welcoming to encourage usage, not just to be classed as “the smokers’ corner”. This can be a great collaboration space where meetings are taken outdoors away from desks and can allow employees to soak up some vitamin D while they are at it.

In this day and age, being socially aware of our carbon footprint is also top of people’s minds. Working for a company that is conscious of its own carbon footprint is important to many.

Simple changes here can help with the psychosocial factor of a healthy office, for example providing a space for bike parking can encourage employees to bike to work, reducing their CO2 and leaving them with more in their pockets (especially with the price of fuel and parking these days).

Other environmental practices include minimizing waste, switching to low carbon lighting, or the use of laptops over desk top computers (these are 80% more energy efficient).

Taking a firm approach to sustainability aligns with employee’s values and offers great company morale, delivering healthy outcomes for people and the planet.

Companies that promote a healthier workspace tend to have better retention of staff, as well as happier employees. Happier employees are the most productive.

Healthy workspaces are ones where team members feel confident and comfortable with the work they are doing.

Having fun at work as well as having a healthy workspace is essential to productivity. Having a healthy workspace is vital in this day and age. Overall, improving the office space to be a healthier environment is beneficial to not just the employees, but also the overall productivity, reputation and success of the business.

Related: Time to spring into action

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Kellie Hamlett
Kellie Hamlett
Director, Recruitment & HR Specialist, Talent ID Recruitment Ltd. She can be contacted on kellie@talentid.co.nz or 027 227 7736. Talent ID are Recruitment Specialists and can support you through your recruitment process.

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