Construction Vertical gardens Milan

Are you an employer? You know, of people? Tricky these days isn’t it, getting the most out of people?

For starters, you may not have seen each other for a long, long time. Everyone has been through a lot in that time, and as an employer you will only ever know the tiniest fraction about how people are going.

Some will be only too happy to see actual (non-related) humans again. Others will be resentful, having come to the deflating realisation that their fear of COVID-related health risks actually ranks behind their fear of losing their job. They may not love having that little bit of insight.

Young business people in formal clothes working in the office

The Employer's responsibility

As an employer, it’s not your job to make your employees feel motivated, happy and safe. How they feel is up to them, not you. You don’t have a remote control for that.

No, dear Employer, your role is to create the conditions where they CAN feel that way.

Let me ask you a non-trick question.

What do you think of when you hear “employee well-being“? Salary. Vacation allocation. Corporate culture. Opportunities for growth. All absolutely correct, in very different ways.

What about the space that they inhabit for upwards of 8 hours a day? No, I don’t mean their home office/living room/attic. Homeworking is the new norm of course, enforced by the COVID-19 health crisis.

But there is a NEW new norm coming. While it is to be hoped that many of those who wish to continue working from home are able to do so, it’s simply not going to remain the way it is right now in the depths of the world’s emergency response in dealing with the initial spread.

Many people are already heading tentatively back into the communal workplace. While the walls may be familiar, little else is. There is a different physical setup, creating separation amongst people we have brought in specifically so they can be together.

There’s also the psychological impact of congregating whom they simply need to trust are taking precautions outside the work environment.

Cheerful secretary

 How is Head-space impacted by "Body-space"?

There’s a lot of focus now on the impact the physical environment has on how employees feel. Why?

Some facts that may surprise you:

1. Allowing employees to control temperature in their workspace can have a 3.5% impact on productivity

2. Using high-performance lighting can result in 6.7% productivity increase

3.  Providing natural light or window views can increase productivity by up to 12%.

As companies look for an edge in today’s opaque business environment, investing in your people is your safest bet. If making a few changes to the physical space they work in can make a real difference, why wouldn’t you do that?

There’s your trick question – of course you would do it! The real question is HOW?

Standing man next to window with digital tablet

So I just stick a plant in the corner?

Actually there is a growing movement to provide structured guidance on how to offer your people a physical setting that helps them to deliver more productivity.

The WELL Building Standard is a platform for workplaces to create “more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being”. WELL offers research-based strategies across three key areas:

1. Setting standards for building design

2. Providing guidance on operational protocols and policies

3. Outlining measures to foster a culture of health and wellness.

The Standard has just been reviewed in light of all that is currently going on – WELL2 launches today, 24th September.

Stress Relief at Work

How does WELL work?

The WELL certification outlines the best practices an organisation should adopt in designing and operating a building to prioritise the health and well-being of employees.

There are 10 concepts for organisations to focus on:

The 10 WELL  Certification Concepts

As you would expect, there is a range of products and services available to help you set a strategy, assign resources, manage projects and measure outcomes.

Take Nourishment as an example of how a Concept works.  To meet certification requirements, the space should include at least one of the following:

a) Garden or greenhouse with food-bearing plants

b) Edible landscaping (eg fruit trees, herbs)

c) Hydroponic farming system.

Some of these are easier to implement than others. There are however new options available in germs of growing food-producing plants inside the building. 

Some criteria to look for:

– Self-contained

– Easy (ie automated) functioning

– Clean & hygienic

– Fits your office design

– Scalable

However you do it, the research is in: Working in a greened environment returns significant benefits in employee engagement, health and well-being with associated availability for work, resilience & capacity to handle stress, talent acquisition & retention, resource efficiency and productivity.

With coworkers at the office party

What are your people going to see from you?

As you bring people back into the workplace, they come back having observed how much you as an employer have visibly cared about their well-being while working remotely.

Does that care stop once they are “back”? Or are you going to show that you really do want to treat them WELL?

If so, you’d better get started! Fear not though, it’s a worthy endeavour – your people will love you for it.

Now, doesn’t that give you a reassuring sense of well-being?

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