The evolution of workplace design has advanced many folds in the last couple of years and has transitioned from vanity to wellness, making it all the more meaningful. There was a time when higher salary packages, bonuses or vacations were the go-to options for employee wellness, but with time we’ve learnt that wellness has very little to do with escapes, than with the state of being. Corporations spend millions every year to crack the code to employee happiness. As we move ahead, we realise how ecosystems and environments are more rewarding than the typical means of recognition.
In the past, we’ve witnessed how businesses have embraced workplace grandeur to invoke a sense of charm, but how far does one go with it? The ‘wow’ does not stay for long if there’s no welfare associated with it; fortunately for us, this gap can be bridged through wellness, whose purpose is to predominantly create an ecosystem and culture that’s disciplined and forged to make individuals feel cared for, valued and motivated.
An individual’s engagement with a company starts from the moment they’re identified by recruiters. Although it may seem irrelevant, this stage is crucial in setting the tone of one’s experience with an organisation. Businesses that embrace the mighty tech, benefit heavily through innovation, for instance, a leading digital transformation consulting firm based in New York automated their onboarding process making it as easy as opening a Facebook account. This reduced the volume of paperwork, as well as the time spent by an individual when getting onboarded. The saved time and effort is a testament to the organisation’s advocacy of introducing wellness through technology.
Similar ease and experience enhancement is further augmented in an employee’s life cycle through multiple means. Like machines, businesses are also built of a combination of software and hardware working together in harmony. Software is the culture, values, processes, capabilities or even the human side; hardware represents the facility, ambience, spaces, and architecture, and these two categories largely represent the means through which businesses process employee wellness by design. The intent here is to have an amalgamation of great design with an even greater purpose because, at the core, it is the values and the culture of the organisation that steers an employee’s journey within it.
Conventionally, workspaces are often designed to channelise focus, but there’s a thin line between this and isolation. Lack of social interaction and sitting in one position for long hours may appear productive but can cause high levels of stress, anxiety or even depression. Hence, unconventional workstations are a fantastic way to break the monotony of cubicles, such as with the Desk-of-bikes (part-desk part-bike), a work-station concept by the same digital transformation firm that automated their onboarding. These Desk-o-bikes can potentially increase dopamine levels through fun and fitness. Standing desks and co-working spaces also bring in a lot of ease and collaboration through intellectual stimulation, support, and interaction.
Recreation and rejuvenation are no more categorised as luxuries, but as basic necessities to achieve wellness. Workplaces have gone up a notch by introducing these segments in their office spaces. Productivity is promised through efficiency, which is achieved through a positive state of mind. Businesses understand that at times their people deal with a lot of stress because of work or domestic matters, and they also recognise their roles in helping reduce this stress. Well-lit, colour coordinated breakout areas with fancy seating arrangements, are certainly a wonderful addition to office spaces, but organisations have also started installing massage stations, gymnasiums, Yoga rooms, Zumba floor, Xbox Game-rooms, pool tables, foosball tables etc. in their office facility. Such assortment and choices certainly help employees feel valued.
Wellness by design is achieved through the holistic experience, which is not just limited to the beautiful buildings, or grand lobby areas, but also through the minute details such as appropriate lighting, comfortable ergonomic furniture, décor elements, fragrance, etc. or even with the presence of greenery that helps connect with nature. Organisations have augmented their facilities with multi-cuisine cafeterias because of the obvious connection that nutrition and energy have with one’s state of mind.
The pandemic has certainly caused millions of employees to keep away from their workplaces, but businesses have exhibited their commitment towards this by sending furniture and stationery to their employees to help them set up a decent work-station at home. However, with the situation getting better every day, organisations are bracing to up their game by introducing many more productive means and facilities to intensify wellness by design.
This article was first published in October 2021.