• Ali H.

Our workspace, wellbeing and behaviour.

From an Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) perspective, our workspace presents an exciting opportunity to explore the transaction between the person, the space in which they work, and how spaces are designed to directly support individual and organisational wellbeing. Given the hybrid world we find ourselves in, this reciprocal relationship is certainly worth exploring for Organisations. Ultimately, our behaviour is influenced by our environment, and our behaviour helps create the environment.

An interesting angle to this is exploring people-related challenges and how our spaces are adjusted to reflect these insights. Of course, we are talking about how a workplace can be more than just somewhere to work and quite possibly support employee choice in returning to the office. Our goal is to have a space built from insight that drives a person’s perceived experience, ultimately resulting in an action that positively influences their health. I.e. our spaces are designed in a way that encourages people to take positive action towards their wellbeing.

As an example, and unsurprisingly, stress, anxiety and depression is on the up, so let’s consider work recovery. Recovery in the work context, is in essence, the unwinding that counteracts the demands we face during the day. Here’s some things to consider,

  • how do we adjust our spaces to reflect psychological and physiological needs?

  • how can we explore robust evidence of those interactions between our people and their spaces?

So for our stress example, if we wanted to create a space for people to support recovery during the workday, our aim should be on helping people achieve relaxation (sympathetic activation lowering) and psychological detachment from work. This might, in turn, give people an opportunity to achieve recovery whilst at work. Here’s some questions to consider,

  • Do you connect social science to your workspace design?

  • Why would someone choose to use a space or service?

  • Ask the question, what would help your people relax and detach from work whilst at work?

  • Connect your spaces to broader policy. Stress Policies, Comfort and Wellbeing, Sleep Policies are all a growing need.

  • What does the environmental design look like?

Of course, these are not exhaustive, and overall research in this area is still developing and certainly in need of more robust studies. However, that shouldn’t stop you, and it should give you an idea of how we can start to connect people to space from an OHP perspective. Our ambition should be to design our workplace so that it doesn’t aggravate problems, but instead, it should recognise and look to provide additional employee coping mechanisms.

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