Over the last few years, the concept of workplace wellness has gained much attention. Corporate wellness refers to developing a health-conscious workplace by providing employees health insurance and undertaking other wellness-boosting organizational activities. Gym membership cards, medical benefits, wellness rooms, and discounted coupons on healthy food are few ways in which companies promote their employees’ well-being today. However, the growing adoption of USGBC WELL standards, a performance tool that helps in creating healthier infrastructures for improving occupant’s well-being, demonstrates that companies should rethink their building design too as it influences staff well-being. Poor air quality, fluorescent lights, and noisy environments are factors that can cause stress, depression, elevated heart rates, and even sick-building syndrome in employees. Hence, it is important to recreate workspaces with enhanced thermal comfort, natural lighting, and proper ventilation. Ensuring such a corporate set up is conducive to a healthy work environment while driving labor productivity and business growth.
The impact of office buildings on employee wellness
One-third of our lives is spent at work. Offices do have a huge impact on our well-being and quality of life, therefore. Tight deadlines can drain the life out of you. However, it’s not only about time limits, but it’s also the sedentary atmosphere of office buildings that can negatively impact your health. Let’s check out the health hazards that office buildings have on employee wellness:
● Stress, depression, and anxiety
Workplace stress has now become a ‘normal’ part of our daily routine. According to a study by the British Medical Journal, prolonged stress can develop heart disease and cause type 2 diabetes. In India, 95 percent of millennials are stressed. And the main reason cited by these millennials is work. In their endeavors to meet strict deadlines, employees often get anxious, stressed, and eventually depressed. Instances like these should be calmly handled. Taking rest periods to cope with mental stress can help. However, taking breaks to still be within the office boundaries can be more depressing. Old faces, artificial lights, and dull cubicle settings cannot be the best place to spend some quality time. Instead, employees should step outdoors into the greenery to alleviate mental illness, according to recent studies.
● Heart disorders
Sitting in your recliner office chairs might give you a feeling of comfort while you work. But it can cause serious physical issues if you sit there long enough, without any breaks.
To prove their worth and fulfill client demands, employees often try to stay focused and work continuously for long hours. However, such behavior can take a toll on their physical health. According to a research led by Dr. William Tigbe, the University of Warwick, employees who have a desk-bound job have increased risk of heart disease.
● Low immunity and improper BMI
To keep going amidst all the workplace stress, employees consume highly fried foods, sugary drinks, and desserts at work. Having unhealthy food without having any physical activity can not only increase their waistlines but also weaken their immunity. A new study led by German scientists reveals that unhealthy diets boost inflammation in the body, alter genes, and destroy the immune system, leading to diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. What could be the best possible solution to ensure staff well-being then?
Well, here’s the answer:
The culture of outdoor working for employee well-being
The health risks discussed above are enough to know why workplace environment should be redefined. One of the ways offices can be transformed is through placemaking. Placemaking is a metric-driven design approach to planning, designing, and creating spaces that foster employee’s well-being. Companies in India should give this strategy a serious consideration.
Exposing workers to the natural environment can have a positive influence on employees’ mental health. While findings say that nature’s contact with employees will enhance workplace health promotion efforts, why can’t employees be directly dragged outdoors for work? Here’s where the culture of outdoor working comes in.
By adopting the concept of outdoor working, employees can stay close to the natural environment. Such a workplace setting will offer natural lighting and good air quality to employees while they work. Besides, during breaks, employees can gaze at the natural surroundings rather than blank office walls. Also, one can practice mindfulness, yoga, or meditation in the open air during break hours. Outdoor working is indeed the wellness trend that corporates in India should latch on to.
While the concept of a collaborative workspace promises better employee health, it also reduces absenteeism rates, boosts energy levels, and helps up productivity. Good health and increased work efficiency go hand in hand with an outdoor working culture. So it’s a win-win situation for the employer as well as the employees.