One of the biggest trends in the UK for businesses is the health and well-being of the employees. As employees choose to stay at work beyond the average retirement age, these programs are becoming more important than in the past. Companies must address an ageing work population while continuing to concentrate on other health issues. In response, many companies are offering health care options to help employees stay healthier longer.
Technology On the Table
Some companies are offering employees technology-assisted health monitoring, such as fitness trackers. These wearable devices offer feedback regarding sleep, exercise, food intake, and more. Employees monitor their own health, and some companies respond with contests built around the data collected by the device. Overall, the result is an engaged office and less illness-related absences. Other technology, such as updated, cushioned chairs or more comfortable wheelchair covers for those who require them are also making appearances. In addition to fitness trackers, businesses are implementing workout rooms, wellness clubs, and relaxation areas with technologically advanced equipment to improve overall employee health.
Mental Health Included
Companies are beginning to realise that improved mental health leads to improved employee production. As a result, many are offering extra breaks, longer vacations, relaxation areas, and other incentives to encourage employees to care for their mental health. The use of mental health services is encouraged by some companies, while others are working toward a better home/life balance. Some companies may start small with monthly accolades or meetings to recognize exemplary work, while others will be building on existing successful programs. The trend into the new year will be towards improved employee mental health facilities.
As mentioned above, incentives to keep employees healthy help, and are on track to be a new trend. Incentives, such as a free meal for checking blood pressure or an extra perk for joining a walking club, help encourage employees to participate. Additionally, more bosses are participating in health programs, which helps employees step up. The trend will be toward office challenges, such as charity walks or recreational sport team creations. Businesses will also begin offering incentives for employees who make regular doctor’s visits, as The Telegraph reports that statistically, many Brits do not get their vitals checked regularly.
Businesses are learning that healthy employees lead to a healthy company. The work environment is improved, days off are lessened, and production is improved. Further, the workforce is ageing, increasing the demand for health care. The trend toward better health care overall will be in overdrive in 2018.
Every week, there are new studies released that expand our understanding of how the brain works. You can turn a blind eye to these advances. Or, you can learn to put them to work for you and your organisation. Here are some tricks for optimising neurological performance that are grounded in science.
1. Monitor Yourself
Gone are the days of using a mood ring to study behaviour. There are now biosensor devices that measure your mood, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and brain waves. For instance, you can translate EEG data into something you can understand and monitor your brain activity using a wireless headset from Emotiv. From there, you can understand when and how to prime yourself for optimum performance.
2. Eat Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits
Your brain and body suffer when you eat foods that are highly processed or have too much sugar. It impairs cognition and alters blood flow to the brain. This is why cognitive dysfunction is more common in diabetics. Natural whole foods offer a more constant, slower source of glucose to help with neurological performance. This means workplace cafeterias should focus on offering plenty of fish, unsaturated fats, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
3. Meditate and Manage Stress
Chronic stress causes memory loss, and brain cells die when cortisol levels remain chronically high. Therefore, stress management is a must. Working memory in the brain gets a boost from meditation. Meditation has been shown to lower stress, increase cerebral blood flow, and improve focus, mood, and concentration by activating specific parts of the brain.
4. Cross-train the Brain
Stepping out of your cognitive comfort zone is crucial for neurological health. For instance, you should take up hiking if you generally play chess. Learn a new language if you mainly engage in physical activities. And, in the workplace, this may mean having staff work on projects that are not necessarily their strong suit.
5. Encourage Exercise
New blood vessels and cells are generated in the brain through consistent biking, jogging, and other aerobic exercises. Also, your brain’s volume increases in the temporal and frontal areas where working memory and planning go on. A workplace fitness centre and special programs will encourage the gains that can be had from engaging in aerobic exercise at least three times per week for half an hour to an hour.
As we learn more and more about how the brain functions, there are sure to be more “hacks” for getting more out of yourself and your employees.
Workplace Trends will keep you up to date with the latest research. Consider also signing up to attend our London Workplace Trends Spring Summit on 7 March 2018 where we’ll be presenting the best in recently published research about Work and the Workplace.
New research by Office Genie has discovered many of Britain’s workplaces are not catering to employees’ needs. Workspaces are lacking distinct, tailor-made areas that could enable employees to work more effectively – particularly introverted workers.
Key points of interest:
Most people don’t have the spaces they need to do their job effectively
People want chill-out zones, private spaces and quiet areas
Introverts in particular would benefit from the introduction of private, quiet spaces
After surveying 1,456 British office workers, it was revealed the majority of workplaces do not have areas that aid lone-working (67%), offer privacy (54%), or opportunities for quiet work (58%). They also do not have spaces that promote collaboration (45%) or provide chill-out areas for staff (74%).
Respondents were asked if their workplace allows them to carry out their work comfortably and 20% stated it does not. Worryingly, of that number, 70% claim it affects their desire to come to work. In terms of improved wellbeing and productivity, chill-out areas, quiet areas, and private spaces are top of workers’ lists.
The findings showed quiet areas and private spaces would be of particular benefit to introverts in the office. Nearly a third (30%) of those identifying as introverts believe a quiet area would help with their wellbeing, compared to 22% of extroverts. Introverts believe private work stations would provide a boost to productivity: 24%, compared to 17% of extroverts. When a large percentage of the workforce identify as introverts (41%) , this is clearly worth bearing in mind.
Robert Hicks, Group HR Director at global employee engagement company Reward Gateway, offers his insight: “An engaged employee knows the company’s purpose, mission and objectives. In turn, they make better decisions for the company, are more productive and innovate more. Studies have shown that workplace satisfaction correlates highly with engagement; the most engaged employees rate their workplace in the 90th percentile.
“The workplace can change and impact productivity, happiness and engagement, both positively and negatively. Changes that alter an employee’s existing behaviours and habits can be incredibly disruptive. Therefore, you need to cater for a variety of behaviours and habits, from introverts to extroverts, as well as consider how to guide employees through any changes you intend to make.”
Gareth Jones, of office furniture manufacturer Kit Out My Office, adds: “Office workers will often spend a large amount of time sat at a desk or in meeting rooms, so it is important that these spaces are designed in a way that the employees like.
“I am not just talking about making a room look prettier, I’m also talking about improving the functionality to cater for everyone’s needs. For example, if you have staff members that want quiet spaces to make phone calls, why not designate a room or perhaps divide a room by creating multiple snugs for people to take their calls privately, without other people listening in.
“In addition to the above, there’s also a strong argument for having breakaway areas for people to have discussions with colleagues. Don’t think of traditional meeting rooms, think of spaces of relaxation by incorporating sofas or armchairs. They are excellent places for relieving stress or making a meeting feel less formal.”
Companies, government agencies, news outlets, and academics are all trying to understand the work from home phenomenon that has boomed in recent years. Consequently, there is an endless list of studies demonstrating its benefits. Here are a few of the latest stats.
1. Seniors Are Staying in the Workforce Longer
The number of seniors 65 and older in the workforce has increased in the past couple decades according to the Pew Research Center. 34 percent of older adults would like to work from home, and 74 percent want more work flexibility. Offering remote positions allows golden-agers to delay retirement and continue working.
2. Workers Are Logging in from Home More Often
There is an increase in how long employees are spending working remotely. Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of employees who work from home one day or less per week decreased from 34 to 25. At the same time, the proportion of those who worked four or five days per week remotely rose 7 percentage points to 31 percent.
3. The Digital Nomad Population Is Growing
In Europe and the United States, a rising proportion of young professionals have used technology to live a nomadic lifestyle and work remotely. One of the biggest drivers of workplace change is virtual teams and flexible work. 37 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll reported working virtually at some point.
4. Flexible Workplaces Attract Young Workers
Two out of three younger workers said the option to work from home would greatly increase their interest in an employer. The survey noted that policies that promote a fun, casual, and flexible work atmosphere have a positive impact on which employers young people chose. The opportunity to work remotely adds to how attractive a company seems and its ability to retain staff for a longer average duration.
5. Remote Employees Are Often More Engaged
According to research from the Harvard Business Review, people who work from home are more engaged with bosses and colleagues than in-house workers. The main difference here is the many tech tools at your disposal. Video conferencing has a lot to do with this.
6. At-Home Workers Are More Productive
Employees and employers alike find that working from home boosts productivity. This is because impromptu meetings, loud colleagues, and water cooler talk doesn’t slow things down. About 67 percent of supervisors say remote workers increase productivity overall.
As we learn to use technology to improve the remote workplace environment, the benefits are likely to increase. It only makes sense for organisations and individuals to take advantage of these perks.
Workplace Trends has always encouraged different ways of exploring the challenges our industry faces, and this year is no exception.
We’re delighted that The Consulting Artist, Doug Shaw, will be joining us for the day at our London conference, Workplace Trends: The Changing Nature of Work, on 18 October. Doug will apply his skills as a visual artist, to interpret themes and ideas as they emerge during the conference.
Doug uses art as a way to help people think, feel, and act differently at work. Here’s a transcript from a recent talk he gave about using art to build resilience, and the photo above shows recent examples of work produced live at a conference for Saint-Gobain Ecophon in Berlin.
We’re looking forward to his interpretation of the day!
We’re absolutely delighted that Sally Augustin, psychologist and principal from US-based Design with Science, will be speaking on Culture-Right Design, at the Workplace Trends Conference on 18 October.
Sally writes: “Cognitive science research makes it clear: people from different cultures work and live best in different sorts of spaces. This session will detail research-based insights designers can use to align design with specific national cultures to develop spaces where people are happy, healthy, wealthy (at least in spirit), and wise.”
Sally Augustin, PhD, is a practicing environmental/design psychologist and a principal at Design With Science. She has extensive experience integrating science-based insights to develop recommendations for the design of places, objects, and services that support desired cognitive, emotional, and physical experiences.
Her clients include manufacturers, service providers, and design firms in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Sally’s work has been discussed in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Forbes, and Psychology Today. Sally is an invited contributor to the online version of the Harvard Business Review. As the editor of Research Design Connections, Sally has written widely on science-based design for a broad audience of people interested in the designed world. Dr. Augustin, who is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, holds leadership positions in professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association and the Environmental Design Research Association. She is the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009) and, with Cindy Coleman, The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design (Wiley, 2012).
As we approach our October Workplace Trends conference, The Changing Nature of Work, around two thirds of the available tickets have been sold (see the delegate list here), which is wonderful news to me as the conference organiser. It’s real vote of confidence from our regular delegates and the newbies who have signed up.
So what’s the conference all about?
We were arguably the first workplace conference on the scene in the early norties, challenging the onset of the recession of that time. Now, in a conference season brimming with events about work and the workplace, we’re honoured to remain firmly in the calendar, and going from strength to strength. In recent years we’ve introduced our Spring Summit – so we currently have two major events a year – and right now we’re hatching plans to bring Workplace Trends overseas. More news on that very soon.
What makes us different?
We discuss trends that are real, looking forward to the workplace of the next 10-20 years. Over our 15 years we’ve examined many subjects that are now becoming mainstream: wellness, productivity, happiness, psychology in the workplace, biophilic design, agile working, cellular vs open plan, to name but a few. Nigel Oseland, speaking about the conference in 2013 accurately predicted a continuing increase in workers’ movement and flexibility, with the office being used as a place to bring a team together to share knowledge, for mentoring and becoming a showcase for our clients. He also talked about the psychology of the workplace – at the time (and still) occupiers and designers were gradually realising we are all different, and so the space we need to make us more effective also differs. We’ve visited aspects of this regularly at Workplace Trends, and will do so again in October, when we are joined by Sally Augustin from the US, who will be talking about Culture-Right Design.
We’re not overly commercial. Speakers never pay us to step up on the platform – they’re either invited or come to us independently with a good idea. Speakers must be proven good communicators; presentations are research or case study driven, and no sales pitches are allowed. Exhibition stands are minimal and intended for our regular sponsors or past attendees of the conference.
Our delegates all want to be there: Conference organisers often stress about the ratio of occupiers to commercial delegates. We don’t. Our delegates want to be at the event 100% and have paid to be there. And yes, we have a good number of occupiers attending, but they’re not used as delegate bait – they’re with us for the same reasons as everyone else – they have an interest, want to learn and connect with others. We know a conference without occupiers would be just as valuable – how many contracts these days are won by collaborative pitches?
We’re in it for the long game: We’ve built a community. A loyal core of our attendees return year after year, most often as delegates and sometimes as speakers. We have a lively 8,000 strong LinkedIn Group, and have just launched a Facebook Group. Visit our website at any point in the year and you’ll find something of interest.
It’s an enjoyable day: Our events have quality 30 minute presentations, with time scheduled for questions. Speakers usually stay the whole day too, so there’s an opportunity to catch up with them individually. Within the usual breaks, we allow plenty of time for networking with colleagues, fellow architects, designers, occupiers and other real estate professionals. Then at the end of the day there’s our traditional drinks reception where the conversation continues in the same relaxed mode. You’ll come away inspired and energised.
So that’s what Workplace Trends is about! Our next conference has the theme ‘The Changing Nature of Work, and takes place on Wednesday 18 October at The British Library. I hope you’ll join us. For full details click here or follow the Workplace Trends tabs above.
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