The stresses of modern life extend well beyond the workplace, but with UK employees spending on average over 32 hours a week at work – and one in three people of working age experiencing mental ill health – there’s an inevitable overlap.

Employers have a responsibility to help employees struggling with mental health problems by making reasonable adjustments to the workplace. In this blog, Express Vending explains the role of workplace design in a business’ wellbeing offering.

The Millennial influence

Gen Y, or ‘Millennials’, (born between 1980-1994) make-up 35 percent of the UK workforce, with the figure expected to rise to 50 percent by 2020.

This generation has been shaped by the technological revolution and is creative and eager for a better work/life balance. So much so, they would forfeit a lump sum of their annual salary if it meant a happier workplace.

The generation seeks flexible working opportunities and regular communication. So, how can employers take inspiration from millennials and update their workplace design?

Offices should feel relaxed and encourage staff to move around and socialise with colleagues while providing seamless internet connectivity. Consider using hot-desking and providing collaborative working spaces where staff can sit together.

These office tweaks will not only help you attract the brightest young talent but also retain your highest-performing staff.

Be flexible

There are currently five generations in the workplace, which is positive for diversity but presents challenges in the need to meet different demands and satisfy varying working preferences, which is why flexible workplaces are key in getting the best out of the whole workforce.

Google has been at the forefront of flexible workplace design for years, creating offices with meeting pods, hot-desks, staff libraries and hidden rooms. While your budgets may not be able to compete with the search engine giant, it still provides office inspiration.

Aim for a mix of open and closed areas like private meeting rooms and break-out areas. If space is of the essence, play to the layout of your office and use moveable furniture to switch things up when staff want to work alone or collaboratively.

Office re-designs should be done with futureproofing and flexibility in mind, offering employees different working environments to boost mood and productivity.

Switch off

Research shows ‘play’ – things like reading, watching movies and sleeping, actually increases productivity, engagement and creativity whilst decreasing absenteeism, stress and sickness levels.

Your budget and office space will determine what you can offer, but it may be time to install a games room, movie theatre or nap pod. Even a games table can provide a much-needed break to refresh tired staff.

Stepping away from the desk during stressful moments or afternoon lulls can help boost mood and productivity and get employees feeling back in control. They’ll also feel valued as an employee and it will help build trust among responsible employees.

Keep communication flowing

Clear communication improves effeciency, sparks innovation and is the foundation of positive company culture – and in today’s digital world, it needs to be 24/7.

Communication shouldn’t be limited to meetings or weekly catch-ups, but be rooted in your workplace design to boost transparency and knowledge of company activities.

Encourage quality communication by installing TVs in your reception area or hallways to show videos of positive work happening and announce business news.

If screens aren’t feasible, opt for notice boards and leaflet stands, informing staff of internal news, charity initiatives and offering information relevant to their jobs or extra-curricular interests.

Keeping employees in the loop about company activities and showing them the bigger picture of their work will keep them engaged and encourage buy-in to company initiatives, ultimately creating an inclusive culture.

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