Trends in the design of a healthier working environment, staying fit at the desk and additions such as stand-up desks are not a new thing to help promote physically healthier habits in the office. But as well as the physical, recent research and study also suggests the importance of keeping ourselves mentally fit in the workplace. Here, we explore a few of these suggestions.
STANDING AND MOVING: According to a study carried out by the British Psychological Society, the average office worker spends too long at their desk, hindering a pattern of sitting even when not in work. Findings recommend a portion of each day standing at the desk, stand-up brainstorming sessions, walk-about meetings if there’s only a very small group and even taking meetings outside. BPS Psychologists recommend using notes to keep a reminder to stay moving on busy schedules. A study by Human Factors and Ergonomics researcher Alan Hedge identifies that its is not necessary to stand all day, but only 15-20% each day could see huge improvements.
FACE TO FACE COMMUNICATION: Studies by Sandy Pentland, PhD from MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, suggests the value of face-to-face communication is considerable. His research presented how it not only leads to a more fluid working environment, but also helps to increase productivity. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented that around 50% of communication is preferred via face-to-face methods. The research suggests that even short-term communication as opposed to sending emails helps productivity and counters miscommunication or any ill-feelings and stress. People tend to open up when face-to-face and is vital even in small periods.
YOGA AND MEDITATION: Emerging research from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School suggest the importance of meditation and yoga exercises as a means to de-stress. The 21 century has seen a large rise in the number of companies inviting yoga and mediation instruction into the workplace. There are also a range of types of yoga and meditation methods to choose from. Wellbeing and Yoga expert Jon Kabat-Zinn is one such expert who has introduced a range of traditional yoga practices to the West, including Hath-Yoga and Pranayam; the art of controlled breathing for calming the mind. These have been adopted by a number of large corporates including HBO, Apple IBM.
CREATIVITY: A lot of occupations not based on the creative arts might not really know how to bring art into the workplace, especially when you’ve got a room full of programmers or lawyers. In an article in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Kevin Eschleman writes how creative activities both outside and at the workplace enhance performance, but also mental well being. Eschleman suggests this can be anything from writing poems or fiction to playing video games. Encouraging these practices into the office, creative activities would bring the small changes needed to help de-stress.Research studies and emerging evidence suggests the continuous correlation between mental wellbeing and productivity. For a range of large companies, this has already materialised with in-house yoga classes and flexible workstations. Rather then a passing trend, this is likely to be gradually picked up by smaller companies who want to implement some of the best practices of larger companies. We expect this will soon be reflected in office interior design in the near future.