High stress levels are evident in today's workplace as we communicate and collaborate constantly. It's sometimes hard to unplug and break away from this practice. There are times, however, when you need a place free of distractions to focus on a task, have a quiet conversation or some personal downtime. A change of scenery such as a meeting pod or booth, within the office landscape, is beneficial allowing people to zone in, or zone out either independently or as a group. People perform best when they can determine where and how they work allowing flexibility and peace of mind knowing that environmental options are available. Having these systems in place allows the wellbeing culture to develop and improves the wellbeing of the company by encouraging engagement and entrepreneurial effort.
A palette of Place, Posture and Presence
The American office furniture company Steelcase generated a study and report on wellbeing and 'best place' strategy, which generally included systems which support various postures, from sit-stand desks, and suitable areas to collaborate, meet and share ideas. At the company's global headquarters at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, two floors on the east half of the building are completely redesigned to deliver workspaces which nurture workplace wellbeing. The study and working practice maintained an underpinning theory that the best place for work offers a palette of place, posture, and presence.
Steelcase identified that spaces should be adapted to more than one purpose, for example, a bench desking system which supports the individuals' work can also be used as a meeting or impromptu collaboration space. This improves the workings of an office and makes furniture systems more valuable, whilst ensuring workers have the best place to work at any time. Meeting pods allow for this type of working as they simply offer an inviting quiet place to work individually or as a group to collaborate.
Changing postures is important and having choices such as seated and stand up work areas, or high benches with a mix of low to high seating can encourage you to adopt different postures in a relatively short time span. For example, the HAG Capisco saddle stool allows 'a greater freedom of movement' and when members of HAG seating have meetings, seated on the HAG stool, they break their meetings up by each changing their posture three times simultaneously. The HAG stool allows for the user to sit in the normal position, sideways and backward, leaning forward on the backrest. This is one example of how flexible the stool is for each user and how it allows posture change and is referred to as 'Active Sitting'
The third element Presence identifies the need for supporting the different ways people communicate and share information, such as audio and video conferencing. Within the Steelcase offices, there are sufficient places to highlight this and there are several media:scape collaborating settings which make the sharing of information easy. Hoffman a representative of Steelcase states 'Simplifying technology and making it easy for people to get together and share information makes work more efficient. People are less stressed, more comfortable and in control'.
We are therefore seeing another factor at play when it comes to wellbeing. There are ways to improve physical wellbeing at work such as attention to ergonomic chairs and posture, on a physical level. However, there should also be environmental factors which allow workers to be supported whilst working, presenting and collaborating as this will improve their emotional wellbeing.