On the Hub my colleagues and I have spoken a lot about wellness in the workplace including SICK building syndrome, the WELL building standard and the importance of green space. In fact focusing on the health of buildings and the occupants within them is placing a greater emphasis on construction and the future of the built environment that we live and work in.
Businesses and charities like UK Green Building Council are just one example of the many companies out there who are retro-fitting and refurbishing their existing premises with a focus on wellbeing and sustainability. And many international brands who are famed for their innovative and creative workspaces are putting a lot of emphasis on making their offices a home away from home.
Google is one of the most notable brands promoting this concept by providing a never ending supply of gourmet food and snacks, allowing employees to bring their pets into work, providing free massages and free fitness classes (a Hygge dream!).
In 100 years will this be the future of all the spaces we work in?
The Danish concept of Hygge, which I’ve spoken about previously here, has many definitions but essentially it’s about wellness, happiness and feeling at home, wherever you are. Of course the concept is easy to apply at your home (where most of us are at our happiest), but there are ways you can feel at home in the office, even if your employer isn’t as advanced as Google!
It’s not a mind-blowing concept to suggest adding personal family photos to your desk, computer screensaver or car dashboard but do you know that studies have found that workers who decorate their spaces are a third more productive? Adding these types of photos, or any photos that make you smile will increase your mood, just like how smiling to yourself in the mirror every day can apparently improve your mental health.
Surrounding yourself with positive images and being a positive image every morning in the mirror might not make you feel at home per say, but it will make you feel happier in whatever your surrounding might be. It’s worth a try at least!
And if the thought of adding a cheesy family photo to your desk feels slightly odd, I would suggest finding photos of something else that inspires you; a daily quote, a cute animal or a scenic landscape. Or look for other ways to incorporate photos in your workspace, my colleague Susan for example keeps a mug and a personalised calendar on her desk with printed photos of her daughters on.
Your break time is your time to switch off from work and while many employees tend to miss their lunches and work through them, taking that time out is extremely important for your physical and mental health. Not only does it give you time to eat and feed your brain; it allows you to sustain your concentration (very important if driving is part of your job), up your energy levels, rest your eyes and ignite your creativity. It also allows you to have social time with your colleagues and get outside into the fresh air.
Of course when it comes to Hygge, I’m a strong believer that you do what makes you happy and for me, spending my lunchtime quietly at my desk is what helps my wellbeing. If this is something you like to do too I would suggest using your break to improve your knowledge, your mindfulness, your creativity or your happiness.
1. Read a long-form article, a book or a blog post. For long-form articles I recommend;
Or if none of these appeal to you, find a subject you like here https://longform.org/
2. Listen to a podcast, some music or a radio show. For podcasts I recommend The High Low, Desert Island Discs and The Football Ramble.
3. Engage with an app to help you take some time out. I recommend apps like Head Space and Calm.
4. Find something new. I recommend using websites like Stumble Upon (now called Mix), and Reddit which show you a medley of weird and wonderful things scattered across the internet all tailored to your interests.
5. Do a quiz or play a game. Every Friday my colleague Russell and I complete the BBC News Quiz as well as a raft of other quizzes that have come to our attention over the week like this one.
6. Go back to basics. I’ve recently tried out knitting to reduce stress which would be an ideal task to tinker with on my lunch break and a few of my colleagues are considering setting up a lunchtime game of cards.
The fluctuating temperature inside an office is one of the most common complaints among workers. Of course every building needs to have adequate heating and cooling systems especially because temperature can affect productivity and with the changing climate, a healthy indoor environment is becoming more and more important (as I mentioned previously).
Intelligent systems available on the market are much more in tune with personalised and automatic temperature control and systems like Hybrid VRF reduce the draughts that occupants might feel sitting directly under an air conditioning vent.
If you are sensitive to the temperature though, having an office fleece, cardigan or blanket (if your workspace is very casual) always comes in handy. Being warm, cosy and comfortable is a big element of Hygge, so even if your office temperature is ideal, in the midst of winter the addition of your soft office layer is a snuggly welcome.
Working outside the office
For a lot of my colleagues and the businesses we work with, their offices are their cars and feeling cosy, happy and healthy behind the wheel can often be a struggle, so while a lot of the above suggestions can be applied to you, here are a few more Hygge inspired suggestions:
- Install a car air freshener that makes you feel homely. If you or your family members/house mates use air fresheners and candles at home, you can often buy the matching freshener for your car.
- Keep a supply of food and drink in an easy to access location. This is also very important if you travel far distances in case you become stranded for a long period of time.
- Create an in car playlist.
- Keep a book in the glove box. This is also important if you become stranded.
Whether we enjoy our work or not, we spend the majority of our adult lives there so it is worth investing the time and effort to make you comfortable, content and (hopefully) fulfilled, Hygge and productive – so I hope these thoughts help.