Energised, happy, productive… Is it really that hard!?

Energised, productive, happy... is it really that hard?

Energised, happy, productive… Is it really that hard!?

Too often we’re quick to point out we’re tired and feeling exhausted, but how often do we consider energy levels as a marker and consequence of our bodies response to a multitude of impacts its juggling day in day out. How many times have you wondered, what if I just had a little more energy, or were more productive? Without considering that to turn things around you may need to consider altering your environment and personal pressures…

It’s important to take positive steps towards lessening our impact on the environment, reducing our carbon footprint and contribution to landfill, but what about the impact that these built environments are having on our health? It’s hard to comprehend that obesity is now killing more people than the underweight, and that the direct cost of poor health is sitting at around 15% of payroll, globally.

The visible cost of poor wellbeing in the workplace is astounding, the impact on turnover of staff, employee retention and attraction, absenteeism, delays due to loss of productivity, over staffing, staff dissatisfaction or disengagement, and presenteeism. Presenteeism, whilst it may be a bit of a buzz word at the moment is increasingly relevant to the environments we work in. Presenteeism is the concept that people are physically and mentally present, although they’re not really listening or actively participating in a task, conversation or environment. You know those times that you sit there and wander off in your own mind, even when you’re not trying to slack off or be unproductive? Studies have shown that this disconnect can cut individual productivity by one third.

Recently Jessica Rose-Simpson of the WELL Building Standard spoke at WORKTECH 16 in Sydney. Jessica discussed the benefits that can be made for human health and wellbeing by administering the WELL Building Standard. The WELL Building Standard, initially founded in 2012 is an international mark of excellence for buildings and professionals which is centred on improving human health, wellbeing and productivity through the built environment.

The standard encompasses 7 scientifically and medically quantitative qualities: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and the mind. These standards encompass 6 years’ worth of research and 3 years’ worth of pilot projects allowing design professionals and facilities managers to analyse whether or not a building is providing a healthy environment and supporting occupant wellbeing.

While achieving some of these qualities require more significant changes, below are a few quick fixes which can improve your working environment without placing considerable strain on staff or your bottom line.

Natural and artificial light has significant impacts on human sleep and wake cycles [circadian rhythm] and has the ability to make people feel more energised and productive throughout the day. We now spend more than 90% of our time indoors making it more important than ever to positively take control of the environments we live and operate in. Darkon have created WYN LED, a light fitting which complements our natural circadian rhythm. The fitting balances light output throughout the day to mimic what is happening outside, benefiting employees who spend the bulk of their days indoors.

In modern open plan workspaces, it’s important to maintain sensitivity to acoustic pollution, thermal comfort, and distractions. Where possible it’s beneficial to occupants if the working environment is soothing and comfortable. BuzziSpace are a company making considerable efforts to create noise reducing products that still maintain an aesthetically pleasing, design oriented end product.

Some workplaces might have a spare room that’s currently unused or filled with unnecessary items that could be cleared out. These spots can easily be turned into relaxation spaces, music rooms, and are known to benefit mental and emotional health, supporting the minds of those that work, live, and operate in these places.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1% of workplace financial expenditure is funnelled into energy costs, 9% into rent, and 90% into staff salaries and benefits. Emphasising that in improving working conditions for employees we have the ability to benefit 90% of this financial investment. By efficiently channelling resourcing into what personnel require in a WELL Building it’s possible to impact the health and wellness of employees and to remain progressive in supporting positive human-centred environments.

It is always important to consider the end user of the spaces we design, and I feel Jessica ended her presentation with a succinct, yet hugely significant quote…

‘Our real job is not to design buildings and cities, but to create a habitat for life.’

Further reading

Harvard Business Review – Presenteeism : At Work… But Out of It
International Well Building Institute
Green Building Council Australia
GE Lighting : Lighting and Sleep
Light and Design Group


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