London’s flexible office provider Uncommon is known for its innovative approach to workspace but how much impact does it have on their members’ productivity? Their latest report on the importance of wellness in the workplace gives us a few pointers.
Drawing on research from leading experts, the report, “Wellbeing Works”, examines how wellbeing needs to be at the heart of workplace planning and the impact this has on our health, happiness and productivity. The key findings of the report include:
So what are some of the most important requirements for a productive workplace?
1. Agile Working
The physical work environment should facilitate different job activities, communication and concentration, informal and formal meetings and different moods such as being calm and relaxed or being stressed or excited.
At Uncommon, spaces have been designed using the principles of Activity Based Working (ABW), a method that suggests different activities require different environments. Uncommon has designed a range of spaces suited to the diverse work activities required by its members, including relaxed lounge areas, private desks, bookable meeting rooms, quiet floors and a new “Well Studio”, a dedicated wellness floor in the Liverpool Street space where members can relax, unwind or energise.
Office furniture needs to be safe and comfortable and workers should have some control over workstation set-up. The environment should be clean and tidy and incorporate effective storage solutions. The fabrics, patterns and textures of interiors and furniture have an impact on employees’ experience and wellbeing, so Uncommon has used chairs that have been balanced for posture, hand-selected direct from suppliers in Italy and Spain. There are also standing desks to encourage stretching.
3. Latest Technology
Availability of fast Wi-Fi with strong signal is vital, and it should be strong enough to support all work settings and remove barriers to working in different areas of the workspace. Applications (i.e. meeting room booking systems), automation and software solutions such as instant messaging are increasingly part of building systems.
4. Natural Lighting
Humans prefer natural lighting over artificial and a link with improved productivity. Windows and views allow people to refocus and relax, reducing fatigue and stress. Different coloured artificial lighting can also alter cognitive performance. When surveyed, 55% of Uncommon members agreed that natural light is a leading factor when selecting an office space, and this ranked higher than factors such as flexibility and size of space.
Noise is the number one inhibitor of a personal sense of productivity. Acoustic performance depends on external and internal noise (building services and occupant activities), finishes and sound insulation. Offices should include different spaces with different characteristics and controls.
At Uncommon, sounds are carefully curated to suit each area. For example, if a space is geared towards concentration, the music played is slower and calmer, and with less lyrics as they’re often distracting. The speed of music used reflects the heartbeat otherwise it becomes too distracting and members cannot focus or concentrate successfully — performance drops of 66% can occur when workers are exposed to disruptive background noise.
6. Air Quality & Scent
The smell of a space influences the way we think and behave, and air quality has a significant impact on health, wellbeing and productivity. The relationship between ventilation, temperature and humidity is particularly significant. The use of plants to filter air and availability of wide, open airy external spaces such as terraces and gardens, can further impact wellbeing.
Uncommon’s spaces have been tailored through scents to impact the way its member think, whether they want calm concentration or inspired ideas. Spaces are infused with scents such as lemon verbena (to promote concentration) or vanilla and cinnamon (for creativity).
Humans have a deep-rooted desire to connect with nature. This urge is likely heightened in an urban environment. Incorporating biophilic design in the office could enhance productivity and performance by promoting calm and relaxation. Over half (53%) of Uncommon members agree the presence of plants in the office makes them less stressed.
Access to water and nutrition is fundamental to wellbeing. Dehydration and hunger impact directly our cognitive and physical performance. Workplaces should provide simple access to kitchens, catering, vending and water points. Facilities like showers which encourage exercise are also important.
Uncommon has coffee shop lounges, which are run by friendly baristas, mixing up healthy snacks, smoothies, organic juices and coffee. Where possible, local, organic suppliers are used to ensure air miles are kept to a minimum. They also do not use products that contain palm oil, tea bags are bio-degradable, and they do not use single-use plastic.
Art can have an important influence on wellbeing and productivity. Art in the workplace helps businesses reduce stress (77% agreed), increase creativity (64% agreed) and encourage the expression of opinions (77% agreed).
Flexible workspace from Uncommon is suitable for both small and large companies looking to work more efficiently. Membership starts from £249 (plus VAT) per month.