There is no question about it: modern life can be a challenge. Recent research suggests that 65% of London workers lose 16 days a year commuting. When we reach our destinations, how can employers help lift our mood by creating happy, healthy offices?
The term ‘healthy workplace’ is increasingly popular, with a growing number of employers recognising that healthy offices lead to improved morale and increased productivity. The phrase is an umbrella term, with lots of individual guiding principles creating this overarching idea – but what are those principles?
The first is the environment that surrounds us. There is a growing importance placed on healthy buildings, to allow those working within them to be as efficient as possible. Employees working in a healthy building, with plenty of light and fresh air, are likely to see their productivity rise. This has health benefits too, with an increased exposure to natural sunlight releasing serotonin, boosting mood and encouraging feelings of calm.
Then there is being ‘healthy on the inside’. In 2016, CBRE’s Amsterdam office played host to a study on the influence of healthy adjustments in the workplace, as part of their ‘healthy offices’ research. Initiatives included health nutrition, such as introducing alternatives to sugar and caffeine. Sugar, which plays havoc with the mind’s ability to concentrate, sharply affects performance. And by drinking less coffee, 78% of participants reported having more energy. Although these are changes we can make as individuals, they form part of a bigger picture that creates happy, healthy people – which is reflected in an office environment.
Related to this is our physical wellbeing, with a focus on sporting activities. It is unlikely that many employers can boast of providing sporting facilities like those to be introduced at Google’s London HQ in Kings Cross (which will include a half-Olympic sized swimming pool, 200m rooftop running trail, and covered sports hall for five-a-side football matches). Many companies, however run smaller initiatives that support a happy, healthy lifestyle – here at Redwood, the weekly Redwood Sports Club keeps us all fit and active! Whilst we have not yet reached the same levels as China, which reintroduced mandatory exercises twice a day at state-owned companies in 2010, or Japanese daily radio calisthenics, it is a great way to let off steam and bond with colleagues.
As increasingly demonstrated in the media and through research, happy and healthy offices are important. Small steps can lead to improved employee wellbeing, creating enjoyable places to work. And with the average Londoner spending about three weeks more at work a year than the rest of the UK, don’t we deserve it?