Wellbeing at the Workplace

Wellbeing is the key to successful workplace design.

Research by Steelcase confirms: we spend more time working than doing anything else. We even spend more time working than sleeping. In total, we spend at least 36% of our day at a workplace. With globalization stretching the workday across time zones, many now begin work at sunrise, and continue to work late into the night. 

“Economic recession in North America and Europe has reduced headcount and budgets, turning productivity into an imperative. Meanwhile, in developing countries, expanding opportunity and competition mean needing to prove oneself every minute of every day, not just to one’s employer but also to the world. In Asia, hectic commutes and blurring boundaries between work and life are disrupting the harmony that’s crucial to our cultural definition of wellbeing.” 

There are currently plenty of “Corporate Wellness Gurus” who exist to help organizations promote overall wellbeing. Isn’t it true, however, that basic sensibility and some well-designed products can aid wellbeing at the workplace?

Today, we are much more conscious of our health, and many workplaces have noticed and embraced their employees' wellness goals. For example, some companies have installed a cycling track inside the office building to encourage employee fitness, some have built fitness centers for employee use, and some organizations are attempting a trendier approach by providing portable hot pods for yoga.

Hotpod Yoga is catching on in Europe. These inflatable heated pods (think bouncy castle but with a flat floor) are designed to allow users to practice yoga at an optimum temperature in a calming atmosphere. The inventors of this product say that “the idea is to step away from the outside world, from mobile phones, emails, and the pace of everyday life.” The pods are delivered to office spaces and are easily popped-up in 10 minutes to fit 20 people at a time and can be neatly packed away after use. This clever product encourages people to step away from their desks and engage in some practical, physical wellbeing. 

What happens when you have a busy schedule and stepping away from your desk during the workday is not an option? Even though we are more conscious of our health, most of us still end up sitting at our desk for 8 or more hours of the day. Although the chairs that we use are often ergonomically well designed, being seated for long hours at a desk now makes headlines as a major health risk. 

Sitting for long hours is now considered “more hazardous than smoking.” 

This argument has led to a new era of standing desks. Here’s a desk which caught my fancy, as it not only solves the problem of being seated for long hours (it can be easily converted from a sitting to standing position), but it also has many other benefits. The desk’s designers Fraser Callaway, Oliver Ward, and Matt Innes first thought of this idea as a joke when, as students, they were repeatedly told by studios: “We can’t have interns in our office, as we don’t have enough desk space available.” 

They decided to solve this problem by creating a desk which can be easily carried and used anywhere. They named the desk “Refold.”

Refold was designed as a standing desk for multiple reasons. First, research shows that when you’re standing you’re more likely to engage with others, share your ideas, and work together. Standing also increases productivity, but most importantly creates a healthier work environment. Human beings are not designed to sit in the same place for hours on end, and research shows that sitting for extended periods can cause irreversible damage. 

So let’s all follow the mantra of “wellbeing at the workplace.”

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