New figures released earlier this year by the UK Statistics Authority reported that a record 17 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression in the last year, costing the economy more than £2.4billion.
It’s statistics like these that illustrate why wellbeing in the workplace is not just nice to have, but essential. Work life balance has evolved dramatically over the years. In the past, perceptions of the word ‘wellbeing’ have been very escapist – typically conjuring up images of relaxing holidays and spa days. Increasingly, businesses are seeing the value in incorporating elements of wellbeing into the workplace, as a remedy for the ‘always on’ culture.
One of the main drivers for this culture is technology. In years gone by, staff would work the traditional 9-5 shift then go home and switch off from work, with no mobile phones or laptops available.
Now, it’s a different story with the ever-increasing forms of technology available meaning that the lines have been blurred. Whereas once the workday was much more structured, the rise in technology means that now, we are always switched on. Coupled with the increasing popularity of agile working – and the introduction of the ‘third space’ – it all opens up a new way of working.
Millennials in particular have certain expectations of the workplace and how they can achieve a good work life balance. Some people like to use headphones or have ‘focus hours’ during the day to switch off from technology and distractions.
People can and do expect more from their workplace in terms of offering time out….
So how can you adapt your workplace to offer a better work life balance? Consider these ideas:
- Create spaces for people to switch off and take time out – Creating these types of spaces in the office gives people a space to rejuvenate and bounce back more productive as a result.
- The so-called ‘third space’ is an emerging design concept which is really gathering pace. Social connections are important for a sense of belonging and engagement at work, but rather than let staff seek this elsewhere, many businesses are creating a café culture within the office. If you are looking to create a community feel in the workplace, you must create spaces that portray this.
- Take inspiration from home comforts – this helps to communicate the message that staff don’t need to leave the office to switch off. The boundaries between work life and home life have blurred, with emerging office designs reflecting that of home, such as big rugs, warm lighting and the use of natural wood.