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The pandemic has changed everything about the way we work and live. For some, it’s been challenging. For others, amazing. But one thing is clear, things will never be the same again.
So what’s to become of our physical workspaces? Just as going digital moved from being a plan to an absolute necessity overnight, the transformation of our working environment is gaining urgency. Countries worldwide may be at different stages of opening up but one question remains constant – what do colleagues want and need from office space as we move into the future of work?
For decades we’ve lived with the idea of a traditional office set-up. Rows of desks ‘owned’ by one individual, meeting rooms – with varying levels of break-out or quiet space. But after being trusted to work from home, returning to the office full-time is no longer an attractive prospect for most people. In fact a recent ONS survey suggests that as many as 85% of workers expect a hybrid approach to work, recognising the value of both home and office work, with the primary positive of the office being collaboration.
Now as businesses prepare for the ‘next normal’, it’s being sold as a positive, but for many, it comes with a growing sense of trepidation. Normal is not something to rush back to. Because when you’re talking about individuals, we believe there is no normal. And there never was.
Those brave enough to #SAYNOTONORMAL have an incredible opportunity to recognise, reflect on and respond to the changes Covid-19 has brought us. And use that to build back our workplaces into an environment that offers more effective, engaged, productive and happier ways of working. An environment where everyone can thrive.
A salient question
So the million-dollar question is, how do you do that? It’s something that Chloe Foy, our behavioural science specialist knows plenty about. Fascinated by the psychology of how an environment affects human behaviour, she conducted research while working at the London School of Economics and Political Science to help businesses adapt and thrive in their environments. Our favourite insight from the paper is that plants have been shown to increase reaction time and increase morale.
But ultimately she discovered that there is no silver bullet to creating an environment to thrive. It’s not just a matter of moving desks or painting a wall. You need to consider many factors. That’s why Chloe devised her SALIENT checklist; seven important elements that can be used to explore the design of built environments, with wellbeing in mind. The design of our environments affect us physically, psychologically and behaviourally without us knowing.
- SOUND – our attention is drawn to unpredictable and attention seeking sounds
- AIR – we are affected by air flow, temperature, source and scents
- LIGHT – our behaviour is influenced by the source and brightness of light
- IMAGE – we are stimulated by certain imagery and affected by clutter
- ERGONOMICS – we do not adapt well to poorly designed furniture and equipment
- NATURE – we are affected in largely positive ways by exposure to natural elements
- TINT – our behaviour is affected by the presence of different colours
What all this tells us, is that by adopting SALIENT principles to our workspaces, it’s possible to reimagine, design and create a workspace that works better for your people. One that completely meets their needs – no matter how varied those are. One that gives everyone what they’re looking for – whether it’s hustle and bustle, a quiet place to think, or a sense of community. A space that your people can really feel at home in.
It’s time to thrive
We know that happy people are the bedrock of a successful company – so investing in an environment that increases their wellbeing will pay dividends. It costs on average £12,000 to replace an employee – yet a recent Gallup poll found that workers who are ‘engaged and thriving are 59% less likely to look for a different job in the next 12 months’.
So let’s start a conversation. Find out what your people want. Collaborate. Tap into our knowledge and create an inspiring workplace that can work for everyone – including your bottom line. We’d love to conduct a SALIENT audit of your space and advise on how you can create an environment where all your people can thrive.