Wellness has become a big part of workspace design in recent years. The new workforce generation has inspired new workspace models; models that are user oriented, that contribute to worker wellness, and enhance productivity through inspirational design
More often than not, we tend to think about wellness as being physically active, having healthy eating habits, and getting enough sleep. But we leave the most important part out when discussing wellness: our own mental health. Afterall, if our mind isn’t in the right place, how can we focus on developing healthy habits?
“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.” – Buddha
Being and feeling mentally and emotionally well is necessary to help us perform at our best. If our mental health isn’t at its best, then it’s harder to focus, to prioritize, and to achieve what it is we want to achieve.
So where do collaborative spaces and coworking come in?
To better understand how these types of flexible workspaces can contribute to individual health and wellness, we spoke with Liz Elam, founder of GCUC and Link Coworking, and an advocate of the importance of implementing wellness programs that will help workspace members thrive and succeed, both in their personal and professional lives.
“As humans, we crave interaction and feed off the energy of our surroundings. Coworking spaces are an incredible source for interaction, collaboration, and inspiring environments; but because these spaces also foster and build a strong community, they end up being a support group for everyone present. And particularly for freelancers and entrepreneurs that tend to work alone or in isolation, being a part of this community can have great advantages and contribute to their mental wellbeing and stimulation.”
And Liz has seen first-hand how coworking has helped someone battle depression.
“A few years ago, a member of Link Coworking called me on a Saturday asking if we could meet at the space. Link is usually closed on weekends, but I was aware of her personal situation, going through a tough spot personally and professionally.”
“We met at Link and she went on to explain how the coworking space had become her very own happy place, it was her safe haven, where she could go catch a break, take a deep breath, find support, and find some mental peace.”
“Coworking is not about ‘fixing’ mental issues, it’s about providing people with a place to go get their work done, in an environment designed to make one productive and happy. It’s about providing people with options to help them reach their own work-life balance.”
But we can only achieve this balance if our mind is anxiety free, if we feel emotionally stable, and if we know that we are not alone. Flexible workspace operators can help workers be at a better mental place by providing environments designed to meet the needs of each and every person. “At Link, we have space for working alone, for working in groups, to take calls, to work outside, to connect with nature. I do believe our space works for introverts, for extroverts, and for ambiverts.”
And if you’re not convinced yet that coworking and collaborative spaces can have a positive impact in a person’s mental and personal life, here are some stats to back up what Liz has touched upon.
“We did some research with GCUC and Emergent Research in 2015 that found that 83% of respondents were less lonely, 89% are happier, and 78% maintain their sanity through coworking.”
“Coworking at a very basic level can make you happy.”