Accent  

The Art of Happiness in the Modern Workplace

What makes a happy workplace? That was the question recently posed to us by one of our clients. This question and our considered answer helped to frame and define a collaboration that resulted in one of the most thrilling and progressive projects we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. By exploring this question in the initial consultation, both parties were able to delineate a clear vision of what was required throughout the project.

Everyone has their own ideas of what makes a happy workplace, but in our extensive experience there are three elements which tend to be of paramount importance:

Wellbeing

The importance of mental and physical wellbeing is increasingly being recognised as an important factor in workplace happiness. In 2015-16, according to the Health and Safety Executive, stress accounted for 45 percent of all sick days in the UK. This is not only harmful to an individual’s wellbeing and happiness, but also to the productivity of the company as a whole.

In order to foster mental and physical wellbeing, it is necessary to address some of the problems most endemic to the modern workplace. For example, our sedentary work habits can provide a significant impediment to our wellbeing. Some recent studies have suggested that sitting for long periods of time is potentially very harmful, with some even comparing it to smoking.

Creating a flexible workplace where staff are free to choose their own workspace and work environment is a great way to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. Breakout areas, open spaces and chill areas will inject a greater sense of freedom into your employees’ work lives, allowing them to exert an element of control over how they choose to work. This will make a great difference to their overall wellbeing, resulting in fewer stress-induced sick days and increased productivity.

Culture

A company’s culture consists of a set of core values and beliefs. Among other things, these values and beliefs help to define the tone of the workplace environment, and how employees interact both with each other and with the company.

A recent study on employee engagement by Ipsos Public Affairs-Randstad found that 66% of employees believe company culture to be either very or extremely important to the success of the company.

In the absence of any clearly defined company culture, employees can struggle to find meaning in their work, and have difficulty connecting with employers as well as their colleagues. However, if a company culture is articulated clearly and understood by all employees, then this can foster a sense of identity, purpose and the feeling of striving for a common goal. All elements which are crucial for workplace happiness.

Office Design

Perhaps the most important factor of all in creating a happy workplace is the design of the workspace itself. Every aspect of your office design matters and contributes in its own way to the mood of the staff who reside there for 40 hours a week.

Even something as subtle as the colour scheme can be significant. Colours which remind us of nature, such as blue and green can deliver a real sense of wellbeing and calm, while colours such as red and orange can inspire activity and innovation.

A recent study by US company Hawarth found that workplace design fosters employee happiness in two ways: by making them feel that their employer values them, and by providing an environment for them to focus on their work.

Significantly, income was not listed as the top contributors to workplace happiness. Michael O’Neill, Haworth’s head of research, said that “there’s more evidence to show that people’s happiness doesn’t increase with their income…our research shows that there are specific design elements you can use to help workers feel happier.”

Clearly, there are many elements which foster workplace happiness, and many of these, such as culture, wellbeing and office design intersect and compliment each other. Here at Accent, happiness & productivity through design is our business. Our culture of sharing our expertise, knowledge, and passion allows us to deliver workspaces which empower your office culture and create a happy workplace for you and your employees.

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