The concept of an office has changed remarkably since the pandemic. For many, the daily commute and 9 to 5 came to a halt. Hybrid working – facilitated by technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams – became the norm.
Since then, we have begun to see the effects hybrid working is having on mental health. The ability to work remotely seems to be welcomed by many – lots of employees find it gives them a better work/life balance. However, most prefer to come into the office on occasion rather than working fully remotely – a recent survey found almost 60% of employees favour a hybrid set up, compared to just 30% who would like to work fully remotely.
For many workers, the office offers a chance to reconnect with their colleagues and helps combat the feeling of isolation and loneliness that can occur among those working remotely. The office can therefore play a key role in hybrid workers’ mental health, which means business owners have a responsibility to create workspaces that promote wellbeing.
Follow the four principles below to get started on designing a hybrid office that is not only good for business, but good for your team’s mental health, too.
It’s believed that around 2 million people in the UK suffer from seasonal affective disorder – also known as ‘winter depression’. While the exact cause is currently unknown, it’s often linked to reduced exposure to natural light during the shorter winter days. This can also cause an increase in stress and anxiety levels, reducing focus and directly impacting productivity. It’s essential to ensure you’re maximising the natural light in your office throughout the year, but particularly in the darker autumn and winter months.
Placing mirrors facing windows can help sunlight reach shady areas, and moving furniture away from windows and repainting dark walls (which absorb natural light) in lighter colours (which reflect it) can really brighten up your space. Find out more about why enhancing the natural light in your office is so important in our blog.
Bringing elements of nature into your hybrid office has also been shown to have a significant positive impact on employee wellbeing. For example, simply placing plants and wooden furniture around your office can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Many offices are beginning to understand the importance of green spaces, with wall gardens, plant pots, and hanging planters – all relatively inexpensive ways to reap the benefits of more nature at work. These green office space ideas are a good place to start.
Green spaces can also contribute towards your sustainability goals by cleaning the air and reducing airborne pathogens, thereby reducing instances of sickness and lost productivity.
Different people will want different things from your workspace. Some members of your team may work well in a quieter, more secluded part of the office, whereas others may prefer open spaces where they can easily communicate and collaborate with their coworkers.
The solution to this is to create various types of workplaces within your office, for example: dedicated areas for collaboration, private spaces for deep work, and informal break-out zones for lunches and team meetings.
Designing an office for a range of people and personalities will not only boost productivity, it will also help improve employee engagement over the long-term – a key component of employee retention. Our design team can help you to create a workspace that helps all of your employees to do their best work.
You need to bring every member of your team on board when it comes to building a hybrid workspace that facilitates positive mental health. Hold regular get-togethers with your team and ask for their candid feedback on the design of the office and where they think things could improve. You might be surprised with the amount of useful information you will receive in return.
Also, if one of your team members admits to struggling with their mental health, be sure to get them the support and time they need to get back on track. Life is a series of highs and lows, and with the right attitude we can help each other have more of the former and less of the latter.
Creating a hybrid office that enables your team to do their best work and also enhances their wellbeing may seem daunting, but help is at hand. With the support of our design team, you can have a fully kitted out London office in as little as eight weeks. Get in touch to find out more.
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