How Flexible Workspaces Can Help Workers Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder

A recent study by Peldon Rose found that for many British workers, winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing. Though you can’t fight against winter for your members, there are certainly ways in which you can make your workspace more ‘winter-friendly’.

A Peldon Rose spokesperson told Allwork that even though the findings did point to a tendency of gloominess and Seasonal Affective Disorder (the disease with the most accurate acronym ever: SAD), “the findings were also positive from the point of view of coworking and business centre providers, because of the importance workers have placed in collaborative and social work space in  supporting mental health. 75% say that these spaces are key to their mental wellbeing.”

Flexible workspace providers are already at an advantage when it comes to keeping their members motivated during the winter time, as they already offer one of the 4 workplace improvements Peldon Rose suggests to help fight the winter blues and SAD. However, there are 3 remaining workplace design elements (see below on full release) that flexible workspace operators should strive to include within their space so as to keep the spirits up and the positivism flowing.

The below is the full release sent by Peldon Rose

44% Of Workers Say Winter Has a Negative Effect On Their Mental Wellbeing 

A third have suffered or are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

 New survey from Peldon Rose reveals simple changes to the workplace are better at beating the January blues than traditional wellbeing benefits.

Winter has a huge impact on the mental health and wellbeing of British workers according to a new survey from workplace consultants, Peldon Rose, which reveals that over two-fifths (44%)* of employees say winter has a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, half (51%) believe it adversely affects their mood and 30% state winter affects their productivity.

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Over a third of respondents (35%) even identify themselves as suffering or having suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that becomes more severe in the winter –  and three-quarters (76%) have experienced or are currently experiencing stress in the workplace.

The survey paints a gloomy picture for employers hoping for a refreshed and revitalised workforce to return following the Christmas break as the longer, darker days at the start of January will continue to affect employees’ wellbeing and productivity well into the New Year.

However, the survey also reveals some important – and perhaps unexpected – ways that businesses can make a difference.  Workers believe the office environment in particular has a vital role in helping to tackle the January blues with office-based factors such as exposure to natural light (90%), quiet and private areas (76%) and social and collaborative workspaces (75%) all rated as significantly more important in supporting mental health than traditional, tailored workplace benefits such as health insurance (62%) and gym memberships (58%).

Yet, with only 29% of people saying yes, they feel the company values their opinion in the workplace environment and only 26% believing their workplace has a positive effect on their mental health, there is clearly more businesses can do. Reviewing the office environment and engaging with staff is an important first step for employers seeking to boost the wellbeing of their workforce.

Survey highlights:

  • Winter blues: Half of workers (51%) say winter has a negative effect on their mood, mental wellbeing (44%) and motivation (43%)
  • SAD and stressed: 35% have suffered or are suffering from SAD, 17% are currently experiencing workplace stress, 59% have done so in the past
  • Workplace woes: Only a quarter of people (26%) say their office environment has a positive effect on their mental health; only 30% believe their company values their opinion on the workplace environment
  • Room for improvement: Just three in 10 (31%) say their company does enough to support employee wellbeing and mental health and only 37% feel their company appreciates them, down from 44% a year ago
  • Supporting mental health: Supportive line management (93%), exposure to natural light (90%), open culture (81%), quiet and private workspaces (76%) and social and collaborative workspaces (75%) are rated most important in supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
  • Collaboration: Three-quarters (73%) say greater involvement in decisions about their workplace would have a positive impact on their motivation, mood (70%), productivity (70%) and mental wellbeing (56%)
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To address these findings Peldon Rose reveals the workplace improvements that will support businesses to help their employees to beat the winter blues:

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  • Natural lighting: Nine in ten (90%) consider exposure to natural light as important in supporting their mental health and wellbeing at work, but only 63% currently have it in their workplace.  Wherever possible introduce more natural lighting into the office, reconfigure seating arrangements if necessary and remove any obstacles preventing sunlight from entering the workplace
  • Quiet areas: Three-quarters (76%) say quiet and private workspaces support their wellbeing at work, 82% value them – but only 40% of people have them in their workplace.  Create a bespoke quiet area by re-thinking how space is currently used, designate part of the office a quiet area or reallocate a specific meeting room as the ‘quiet zone’
  • Social and communal areas: 77% value them and 75% think they’re important to support mental health, but only 51% have them.  Create social areas by making existing communal areas such as the kitchen more welcoming with comfy seating and more relaxed, homely design
  • InclusivityInclude everyone in decisions being made about the workplace; greater employee involvement will have a positive impact on staff productivity (70%) and mental wellbeing (56%)
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Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive, Peldon Rose, the office design specialists, said,

“Thousands of office workers are struggling with their mental health, motivation and productivity this winter, but our survey reveals that there are steps businesses can take to try prevent SAD and the winter blues developing in the first place. The first step is for businesses to engage with their staff via change management and getting them more involved in decisions about their workplace environment. By doing this it will boost their motivation, mood and productivity.

“Employees are clear that rather than paid-for interventions, such as mental health support through health insurance, a supportive work culture and the right office environment will do far more to support their mental health and boost their wellbeing, meaning all businesses, regardless of size can look to make small changes that will have a big impact this New Year.”