How to improve workplace wellbeing without breaking the bank: Introducing the ‘personal sanctuary’

How to improve workplace wellbeing without breaking the bank:

Introducing the ‘personal sanctuary’

There’s no denying that the world of workplace is changing. Long gone are the days of imposing cubicles, migraine-inducing strip lighting and dusty water coolers (thank goodness).

With people now able to work from anywhere, at anytime, without disruption – WiFi connection dependent, of course – businesses are going to increasing lengths to encourage employees back into the office. Because, ultimately, there’s still no technological replacement for a human handshake.


What do workers want?

A recent study by Gensler found that 67% of the British workforce feel drained by the end of the day due to their current office environments. In fact, those described in the research as ‘innovators’ are said to spend just 3.5 days of their working week in the office, choosing to do their thinking elsewhere.

This suggests that the office model of old has not evolved at the same rate as our working patterns.

On the flipside, however, a European-wide survey by global flooring manufacturer Tarkett found that people still want and need a dedicated workspace. Over 60% of respondents said they are most productive in an office. Though it must be one where they feel they can ‘zone in’ without distraction, and equally collaborate with colleagues when needed.

Rather than slides and ballpools, we believe that what people actually want is far simpler; a place that they can be productive with the ability to create a ‘personal sanctuary’, if you like, set-up to their individual needs. And for this to happen, businesses need to offer their workforce some element of ‘control’ over their surroundings.


What factors do we need to consider?

In order to give people back control, different ‘zones’ must be provided, catering to all of the various tasks that employees might undertake within a day. For quiet, ‘heads down’ work, a space away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ should be free from distractions – both audio and visual.


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Distractions in this area aren’t always immediately obvious. Ringing phones and loud music are a given but, equally, the hum of an air conditioning unit or a coffee machine grinding can cause the same effect.

Increasingly, designers are introducing privacy solutions to help combat some of these issues. A study by Gartner Group, a global technology research firm, found that employees are now spending only 40% of their time at their allocated desks. And so, privacy sofas and chairs, and even micro-environments, are providing space for quiet conversations and ‘heads down’ work.


Likewise, certain colours can evoke specific feelings or help to reinforce company messages. According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive at global colour experts Pantone, blues and oranges will make a business look “resourceful”, while yellow will encourage “playfulness”. Pink is said to be “discrete” and gold is “sophisticated”. But too much of a certain shade can lead to overstimulation, having an adverse effect on those working within the space.

Register to download the full Personal Sanctuaries Trend Report to read expert insight from our community, including advice from Camira Fabrics

For collaborative work, on the other hand, the office environment needs to support discussion. When it comes to the furniture, rather than uncomfortable, upright pieces, cushioned Italian-style shapes may provide a more relaxed atmosphere, leading to freer thinking.


How can we meet employee and business needs?

Supporting ‘personal sanctuaries’ does not require a complete office overhaul. In fact, it may be all that’s needed are some small but impactful changes.

While some employers and co-working spaces are opting for sleeping pods (yes, really) in their workspaces, others are looking to smaller-scale solutions with one thing in common: comfort.

To help encourage collaboration, could some comfortable sofas in a quiet corner of the office do the job? Or in lieu of building a new meeting room, how about specifying some privacy chairs and foot stools?

Ultimately, the concept of the ‘personal sanctuary’ is far less extravagant than some might assume. Providing comfortable spaces allows for employees to control their own ‘personalised’ set up, allowing them to be the most productive they can be.

If you’d like to find out more about creating the perfect personal sanctuary, please register to download our report, Workplace wellbeing: Introducing the ‘personal sanctuary’ here.


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