Workplace Wellbeing: Considerations for the coming year
The COVID-19 pandemic created a new list of considerations for businesses, especially in terms of the workforce. Trust and flexibility became practices in companies of all sizes, while employee wellbeing became more important than, well arguably, ever. Unfortunately, with COVID predicted to become endemic, perhaps even this year, it’s not going anywhere. But with almost two years in COVID-time under our belt now, we’re better prepared than ever to make sure that workplace wellbeing, in London, is a priority for all.
Here are a few ideas and considerations for the year ahead.
COVID brought with it systematic uncertainty, through changing guidelines that affected office spaces, employee sickness and enforced isolation for close contacts. Whilst guidelines are unlikely to return to full lockdown any time soon, we’ve already learned that rigidity and too much forward planning often go to waste. Building flexibility into your processes, however, will allow you to adapt to any situation that might arise.
Similarly, passing this flexibility onto your workforce could be equally as useful.
Statistics from the Equiem Global Office Survey 2021 found that in the UK, 63% of respondents said they hoped their company would adopt a hybrid working model – some days in the office and some from home. Only 1% of respondents wanted their organisation to adopt a 5 day return to the office policy, and 17% said there was no need for a return to the office at all.
What we take from this is that employees want to be given the choice – they desire the office for collaboration, socialising, and major project work, but value the ease and productivity that comes from home working. Giving employees this flexibility, particularly in a city like ours where commutes can be hours long, will have positive effects on workplace wellbeing, in London.
At IQL, we created functional and diverse spaces: break-out rooms, informal meeting areas, outdoor workspaces and connected terraces – to offer adaptable working options for those in our offices. We also have Workable, our flexible work and event space for meetings or events which might just be more productive outside of the office setting.
The same Equiem survey asked the question, ‘What is the role of the office in a post-COVID world’. A huge 77% said offices helped to stay connected to colleagues, with 70% also saying collaboration was easier. It’s the one thing that isn’t as prominent with homeworking, no matter how good video technology is – a sense of community.
Our very own Workplace Futures Lead, Rachel Edwards, examined the issue in her recent thought piece, on how offices can foster this sense of community. Statistics have already proven that UK workers want the choice of an office, so how do you make it as enticing as possible?
A recent Lendlease customer survey concluded that amenity and experience are key: creating a place, not a space.
This means it’s not just about looking after the health of employees (with things like fresh air indoors and minimal ambient noise), it’s also making them feel part of something.
An example at IQL might be offering coffee services inside a building, shower facilities, or making sure there’s plenty of branch out space for collaborative meetings, as well as more formal ones.
When you’re fostering a close-knit, productive community of workers, we’d argue that the neighbourhood around your workplace matters just as much as the building itself.
To promote everything our neighbourhood has to offer and further a sense of community at IQL, we created the Life @ IQL app. The app is a place where we can share exclusive offers from local retailers, events, fitness classes and news updates with our local community, residents and employees based here at IQL.
A well-connected area minimises stressful commutes; fitness facilities offer opportunities to stay healthy during the working day; a curated retail mix offers convenience for nearby workers. Similarly, creating social opportunities through events like our outdoor yoga classes – which (pre-COVID) took place at The Spark – or our Summer Screen events, connects employees to the area, not just the office.
In Stratford, we’re lucky to neighbour the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We’re only just starting to understand the positive effects nature has on the mind and our general health, and workplace wellbeing in London is no different. In large urban cities, having access to a green space is a novelty, but if you’re lucky enough to have that access – make the most of it and encourage your employees to enjoy it wherever possible.