- December 23, 2019
- Posted by: Sharon Lam
- Categories: Culture, Leadership, Management Consulting, Operations, People, Planning, Psychology, Work Space
Mental health and wellbeing have been in increasing focus in research for the past few years, especially in the organisational sphere and an office or workplace that has an activity-based working design. The leading cause for pulling sickies and workers reporting long-term work incapacity in Australia is mental illness – and since most of these workers are spending the majority of their time at the office, it’s crucial for businesses to acknowledge their roles in providing a place to not only support their physical wellbeing (through matters like ergonomic furniture and lighting) but also to mental health.
It’s not just about decreasing the statistic of employee absenteeism – it’s a process of empowering your employees to be the best they can be, for their work, and for themselves.
Many different approaches have been initiated by businesses to kickstart this empowering process. One that has gained recent traction is how workplace design can affect employee productivity and wellbeing – research that includes how activity-based working (ABW) can benefit your employees both physically and mentally.
Activity-Based Working is a design approach to the office that understands that there are many different roles and activities that an office worker might need to undertake in their daily work – and therefore, they would need different technology, spaces, and settings for them to undertake each role as efficiently and productively as possible. ABW design is all about creating spaces that can empower the needs that your employees or teams need for their work, and bring out their full potential anytime, anywhere, with any task.
Wellness and Activity-Based Working
An office designed with ABW principles in mind can support mental health and wellbeing in these ways:
1. Agency and control over their surroundings
Flexibility in your surroundings and in the workspace allows every workstyle of your potential employees to be catered for. Each of your workers can choose the best space for their working style – whether it’s introverted and private, or extraverted and collaborative, your employee has the power to choose a space best suited for their tasks and mood. This power allows a sense of agency to grow, giving your workers happiness that can be essential to keeping your worker’s continued happiness.
2. Work-Life Balance
That’s not all – the flexibility of Activity-Based Working can also be applied to creating greater work-life balance. When you can choose when, where, and how you work in accordance with your task, role, and work style, you can give your workers more freedom and power over their own lives. This allows them to have more space to prioritise a healthy work/life balance for themselves – which is both attractive (to new employees) and a significant to continued wellbeing.
3. Increased Collaboration and Social Relationships
Businesses have been understanding the importance of interaction and collaboration between employees and creating strong bonds between coworkers for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Good teamwork can help predict increased success, creativity and productivity, and ABW can create spaces to help facilitate spaces that allow for increased collaboration and socialising, formal or informal.
Furthermore, friendships and social support help maintain good mood and morale – having someone who understands what you do on a daily basis can keep your workers sustained for their job the next day, and increase their resilience. As part of the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce, the CBCC offers a very special service called “Round Tables”.
It brings businesses together to focus on the challenges faced by people in their business or jobs. In part, it is a support group, with varying levels of experience and diversification available to its members. Just one way the CBCC helps keeps businesses on track and in the right mind.
4. Healthy Eating
Many ABW designed offices create a communal break-out area, like a kitchen, or an eating hub, that lets employees eat and socialise with their fellow colleagues and peers. Not only can this let your workers collaborate more, an area like this paired with a policy to discourage eating while working, or while workers are at their desk, can create healthier eating habits and increased movement.