Guest blog By Beth Hampson, Commercial Director of London Executive Offices
The world of work is rapidly changing. Recent research found that 77% of employees think that wellness programs positively affect company culture, but an even higher percentage – 83% – would turn down a job if it didn’t offer flexible working.
Employees are demanding both wellness and flexibility, but have employers considered the wellness benefits that can in fact be directly reaped from a flexible office?
Finding a workspace that offers the necessary design features to promote wellness, but that also supports its employees’ lifestyles, is key for fostering genuine employee wellbeing. For growing businesses who may have limited resources, it can prove particularly crucial.
Physical space is of course key, and employers are now well-versed on the benefits of natural light and ergonomically-designed chairs. However, the very atmosphere of a workspace can affect wellness. Is working in a crowded, noisy coffee shop between meetings going to make your team feel motivated and productive? Unlikely. But, create a calm and productive space and simply by stepping through the door, employees will feel motivated and able to produce quality work. Flexspace and co-working do not mean beer taps, noise and bean bags for every business; for some, it means discreet working, quality services and like-minded neighbours.
Space to support lifestyles
An office is more than just four walls – it should support the lifestyle of each employee for wellbeing to really manifest. On-site facilities like showers, productive break-out areas, cafes and great travel links for commuters all support the day-to-day lives of your team. Growing businesses can rarely afford these facilities independently, and so a space that offers all of it for them can be a successful tool for boosting wellness whilst also reducing costs.
Time is also too often forgotten. Ask yourself the question: does every member of your team need a permanent desk if many of them spend time out on the road? An effective solution for growing businesses is having a smaller permanent office alongside a club membership, which offers multi-site access to lounges and hot-desks across the city.
This not only reduces overheads but also supports each individual’s daily routine more efficiently. Employees don’t have to waste unnecessary hours commuting on busy trains if they can use a space best suited to their schedule that day. They can then reclaim these hours to spend time with family, play sport or see an old friend. The links between wellness and productivity are undisputed, and the role of real estate shouldn’t be forgotten in this process.
A growing business is by nature unpredictable, with no concrete idea of where it will be in six months, let alone six years. Its office should support, rather than restrict, as it both grows and contracts, to nurture its organic evolution. By minimising disruption as you take on more staff or have to temporarily scale back, you will create a far less stressful and far more positive environment for your team.
For instance, consider the space itself: can desks be added or removed easily? Is there scope to add walls or create private spaces? Also, a business’ growth may be so speedy that it needs a bigger square foot office altogether. By working with a provider that has a cluster of buildings in one area, when the need arises to move building as you upscale, you only have to go down the road – minimising disruption to employees and maintaining the benefits of the area’s amenities and commuter connections. What’s more, businesses can sometimes be overly ambitious, and things don’t always go to plan, and so there must be scope to reduce headcount.
A powerful combination
Wellness and flexible working are two of the largest, and fastest growing, trends for today’s HR teams. Employers know that different office solutions are increasingly available, but they would be wise to understand how an innovative and flexible workspace can itself produce wellness. By considering the above features, employers can craft a work environment that genuinely supports wellness across the board. Creating a space that your employees are really proud of often lies at the heart of their engagement.