Providing a variety of spaces in the office can create a healthier work environment and support productivity

Benjamin Willmore

Benjamin Willmore

At work and facing that 3pm slump? Take a 20-minute power nap in a sleep pod. Need a quiet space away from the office bustle and noise? Try the meditation booth.

There is more to a good office than meets the eye; what matters is how employees feel. The focus on health and wellbeing has increased since the pandemic as people have reassessed their work-life balance. The office environment can play a part in supporting good physical and mental health. In turn, there are tangible benefits for businesses in having a holistic workplace.

Providing a variety of spaces for working or stepping away to recharge is one way of creating a healthier work environment that can support productivity.

Sleep pods designed for short naps might seem quirky to some but are part of a broad range of measures that can be introduced to support employee health, some of which are quite simple.

For example, the quality of the air is important. Pumping more than the recommended volume of fresh air into an office building can help reduce sickness and, as research demonstrates, improves concentration and focus.

Barely noticeable things can also make a big impact. Take dropping the office temperature by 1°C at 2pm. After eating lunch, body temperatures can rise, so adjusting the temperature helps keep people cooler and less sluggish. We have seen the benefits in our offices, with no reports of a drop in productivity.

Mood enhancement

Giving tenants control over the temperature of their workspace can make a difference, which is particularly beneficial for serviced and flexible offices where there can be many offices on one floor.

Sound and smell can also play a part in how we feel about a place. Meditation pods use sights, sounds and smell to help put you into a meditative state. And the same principles can be applied to the wider office space.

People attach specific emotions to certain music, so you can curate the mood of different spaces within an office using background music. Similarly, there are strong associations with certain aromas, which can be used to enhance the mood in an office – the smells of Christmas, such as pine trees for example, or the smell of freshly baked croissants in the morning.

An on-site gym is an obvious option to make it easier for staff to keep active or improve their fitness. Additionally, you can introduce classes that focus on things like posture to prevent health niggles caused by sitting incorrectly.

Far from being a fad, holistic workplaces make good business sense for landlords and those using the space. Having an office set up to support health and wellbeing has made our offices more lettable. For example, by October, our space in Reading will be 65% let just five months since opening. We would normally plan on taking 18 months to fill a building.

Anecdotal evidence from tenants suggests a healthy office helps with recruitment, particularly in a market where firms are competing for skills. While salary and package are still really important, the feel and set-up of the office could sway the decision. Similarly, the focus on amenities that support a healthy workplace has boosted productivity.

One company that had to downsize into a smaller office because of the impact of Covid has since enjoyed a high staff retention rate. Healthy workplaces are worth the power nap.

Benjamin Willmore is founder of serviced office provider YoooServ