Health is wealth, right?
If that’s true, why aren’t more companies investing in the wellbeing of their people?
During the afternoon session of Day One at GCUC UK in London, Ann-Marie Aguilar, Director of the International WELL Building Institute, moderated a panel discussing wellbeing at work.
She noted that 90% of organisational costs in the built environment are attributed to staff, therefore they should be the utmost priority. After all, better health and wellness leads to happier employees, which results in greater employee productivity, engagement and retention.
So how can flexible workspace operators create an environment to help improve the physical and mental wellbeing of their members?
To understand wellness in action, panellist Maud Chuffart, Chief Wellness Officer at Kwerk in Paris, took to the stage and led a 5-minute meditation session.
“The mind is a muscle, you have to work on it,” explained Maud, as she asked GCUC attendees to close their eyes and concentrate on taking gentle, rhythmic breaths, simply focusing on the sensation of breathing and gradually lengthening the depth of each breath. The aim is to block out busy thoughts and allow the mind to become uncluttered, calm and peaceful.
Such exercises, says Maud, are simple yet extraordinarily powerful. But in our always-on, always-connected culture, we often feel guilty for taking time out during the day to relax or re-group.
To help change this mindset, Maud explained some of the initiatives at Kwerk, and how the wellness-focused brand targets both physical and mental health in the workplace.
For physical comfort, different types of chairs are provided – including ‘wobble’ stools – alongside sit-stand desks. For mental relaxation, there is dedicated space with daily classes for yoga and meditation. There are classes for physical training and team building, and for those who appreciate a physical challenge combined with a blast of fresh air, members even have the opportunity to abseil down the side of the building.
As for design, Maud explains that this is one of the main pillars of their wellness strategy.
“It’s not minimalist. We believe that design should inspire people and create emotion. For example, at Kwerk Tour First, we have sofas stuck to the walls!”
At Kwerk Bienfaisance, their glass partitions are filled with art.
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Biophilia is another important part of design, and every space is adorned with greenery – some with hundreds of different types of plants.
To measure the success of their wellbeing initiative, Kwerk carries out a survey of their members after they have spent 6 months at the space and taken part in various wellness activities.
The results are staggering:
- 68% of members did yoga for the first time at Kwerk
- 86% say Kwerk has helped them deal better with stress
- 71% gained concentration
- 68% gained in confidence.
Furthermore, 39% say they only practice sport at Kwerk. Without a workplace that offers dedicated sporting activities, those people would not conduct any exercise at all – which goes some way towards demonstrating the importance of offering wellness programmes in your workspace.
But it’s not just about physical exercise. As Maud points out, wellness must embrace both physical and mental health.
“Mental health is connected with physical health. We are overwhelmed with information. This is why we need to take a break; to rest our minds.
“Mental health should be the priority. You’re more productive if you take a break, you’re not losing time – you’re actually gaining it.”