Imagine if two out of every ten of your employees just browsed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all day…every day! Would you be ok with that kind of loss? Unfortunately, that level of lost productivity is a reality; not because of employees intentionally wasting time, but due to poor health and wellness practices that affect workers’ ability to function at full capacity. The typical employer loses 44 days a year per every thousand employees due to the top eight chronic conditions and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 68% of the workforce has at least one chronic health condition. What if this could be reduced simply by redesigning the workspace? Here are 7 ways workplace wellness (or lack thereof) impacts your bottom line.
Absenteeism is Expensive
When employers include energy efficient designs in the workplace, they can actually lower their facility costs. For example, indoor air quality (IAQ) affects employees’ ability to focus and work effectively. Implementing air purifiers can help reduce the risk of airborne germs that irritate asthma, allergies, and illness – leading to fewer sick days. Sick days are a major expense. Absenteeism costs U.S. employers $153 billion a year, according to Gallup. This is a big reason why many employers offer workplace wellness programs.
These wellness programs are not the old school “lose weight and quit smoking” PSA’s of the 80’s. They are much more in-depth, and therefore far more effective. In addition to healthy lifestyle and exercise programs, modern workplace wellness programs include efforts to focus on career development and financial wellness. When employees feel they have a solid plan for their own financial security, they experience lower levels of stress. Plus, many programs are now integration elements of charitable work as “giving” leads to happier and healthier people. Tailoring these workplace wellness programs to the individual means faster and more hands-on results, improving overall workplace wellbeing. However, don’t offer so many options that it becomes too complicated. “Less is more” when it comes to workplace wellness programs.
A Little Healthy Workplace DIY
But, don’t just leave it to the “professionals” to implement health and wellness at work. Simply redesigning the workplace can encourage employees to be more active – without them even realizing it! Arrange the office so that employees have to walk throughout the day to get coffee, print papers, and access trashcans.
Outfit conference rooms with counter-height standing tables and begin a trend of “standing meetings” – bonus: people won’t linger. It’s no longer uncommon to find employees working at sit-stand desks. Now, treadmill desks are popping up more as an engaging method of active workflow. These simple, but great options keep employees from being sedentary for too long. Plus, research shows walking stimulates critical thinking. Every healthy step (no pun intended) leads to fewer sick days.
Presenteeism – The Silent Progress Killer
However, absenteeism isn’t the only problem. Another progress-killer is the less obvious “presenteeism.” Presenteeism is defined as “being at work but not performing your best. “ There are a variety of factors that can lead to presenteeism. The good news is there are also a variety of tactics workspaces can implement to combat this.
One crazy idea? Nap pods. It sounds ridiculous: taking a snooze at work. However, power naps have been scientifically proven to increase productivity and workplace wellbeing. In fact, sleep deprivation costs U.S. employers roughly $411 billion annually according to 2016 study from RAND Corporation. It’s those kinds of whopping figures that lead places like Uber and Google to place nap pods all around their workspaces. It’s better to take a 20-minute nap and power through the rest of the day than to drag all day and realize only 20 minutes worth of work was done. Other solutions can include flexible hours and even bringing the outdoors, indoors.
Going Green Gets You Green
It’s more than just the bottom line with employees; investors want to see that companies are not only improving health and wellness at work, but are implementing healthy environmental practices. “Green building certifications are a critical tool in corporate sustainability reporting, which is being demanded by investors. Class-A office portfolios are now being benchmarked by performance criteria ranging from energy and water to waste and building policies.” Retail Design Collaboration and Studio One Eleven Sustainability Director Sara Hickman.
Turn Up the Heat
Even temperature can affect productivity in cognitive tasks. A recent study found that men and women differ in their ideal work temperature. While men operate better in colder temperatures, women perform best in warmer environments. The study goes on to say that gender mixed workplaces should set the temperature to a higher setting than current standards.
Incorporating nature into the office increases employee happiness and productivity. Take Nike, for example, who installed a smart green wall in their office.
“[We have a] big belief in the healing properties of plants and the attraction of nature and what living in nature actually brings from stress reduction and quality of life. By incorporating bits and pieces of nature to the spaces where we spend most of our time in, we can positively impact our health, happiness and productivity at work.”
– Nike Communications founder and President Nina Kaminer.
Shine A Little Light on the Issue
Simply having a workspace with natural light can help its tenants feel less fatigued during the day. Modern architects are implementing fewer walls and more glass into their designs, like the Salesforce Tower’s glass-lined exterior (and top-level “Ohana Floors”). As Mark Cavagnero, founding partner at San Francisco-based Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects, puts it, “Everyone is happier in a well-lit, balanced space.” Cavagnero implements prominently features floor-to-ceiling glass and lots of natural light in the spaces he designs. In the last 10 to 15 years, glass has become significantly more energy efficient too – reducing glare and heat gain; meaning less need for energy to cool interiors while providing the natural light necessary for workplace wellbeing.
As designers craft new office spaces, some intentionally set up the space to facilitate people bumping into one another. Collaboration is key to 21st century success, and the environment is a major key in making that happen. Co-working venues have nearly doubled in the last four years to about 1.7 million members. The workforce of today values creativity, collaboration, and community. Even major companies such as Microsoft, Deloitte, and IBM have begun tapping into the creative productivity that flows in co-working spaces. In 2016 Microsoft gave 70% of its workforce access to NYC WeWork co-working spaces. The good news is you don’t have to travel to NYC to access great co-working space. OFW+Community is a Chattanooga Coworking Space operated by Office Furniture Warehouse.
Thanks for Reading
Health and wellness at work begins with thorough, thoughtful design – which entails something different for every workspace. Want to explore how we’re helping cultivate workspaces that work as hard as you do?