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Being well at work

At GCUC UK in Sept 2018 Wellness at work was a key theme throughout the conference. Mhorag Doig the CEO and Founder of Harbour 54 and guest blogger for GCUC UK offers her thoughts and why being well at work is so important.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, where we are ‘always on’ and connected and the demands of work often stretch beyond the traditional ‘9-5’, workplace stress is ever more prevalent. As Jeffrey Pfeffer wrote recently in an article for McKinsey “workplace stress…costs US employers $200 billion a year”. Given this figure we cannot help but be surprised that there is any question at all about the return on investment (ROI) in having a happy and healthy workforce. After all, happy people are more engaged, more productive and both mentally and physically healthier.

It is no wonder then that to counterbalance the rising costs of an unhappy workforce there is a growing trend toward ‘workplace wellness’ in many organisations. Attention is not only being given to how to better design jobs, but also how to provide workspaces that offer an engaging employee experience and positively contribute to employees being happy and healthy at work.

When it comes to innovating with space the coworking and ‘space as a service’ industry is leaps and bounds ahead of many corporate organisations. This is perhaps not surprising given the space itself IS the product and to attract and retain members they need to do more than just provide a desk and some coffee.

It was wonderful therefore to hear some of this innovation and best practice showcased at the recent GCUC, with an afternoon dedicated to the role that workspace can play in supporting individuals to flourish.

We prefaced the discussion by talking a little about the research being conducted by organisations like The International WELL Building Institute showing that productivity and happiness in a space can be positively impacted through things like air quality, noise, kinetics (simply the ability to get up and move around) and having plants nearby or access to nature (known as biophilia). Coworking and ‘space as a service’ providers are taking this new understanding of how we interact with the space around us and running with it!

For example, Kwerk, a Paris based coworking centre has coined the term ‘wellworking’ with its therapeutic workstations with ergonomically designed desks and chairs, a specially designed wellness programme with an on-site psychologist, and an immersive design that ‘awakens the senses’. Uncommon, a London based coworking company has wall to wall plants in its spaces, with biophilia a core tenant of its ethos and ‘vibe’. Both of these spaces, and many more, cater not just to the need for a place to work, but also for the physical and emotional wellbeing of the individual while he or she is working there.

The appearance of these spaces and the broader debate on workplace wellness coincides with a mindset shift in how we work, where we work and when we work. Not only are employees placing more importance on their physical and mental wellbeing, but as they are exposed to more different environments in their personal and working lives, they become more attuned to what they need in a workspace in order to be productive, healthy, and happy.

With greater opportunity than ever to personalise our lifestyle choices, it is natural we want to extend this freedom of choice to our working lives. If we can better understand and capture the subjective value of workplace wellness to the individual this could herald the start of a new relationship between worker and workspace. A more bespoke relationship with happiness and wellbeing at its core, and one that supports individuals to do their best work, anytime, anywhere

Harbour84 is an online platform to connect business travellers with workspaces that can help them be their best. Curation is key to our success. We carefully select spaces that offer connectivity, community and comfort based on the belief that workplace wellbeing and productivity go hand in hand. We then enable our customers to discover the workspaces they are looking for in a quick, simple and easy way.


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