Prioritising employees’ wellbeing at work is an effective way to help overcome the back-to-work blues this January, according to Steelcase.

Research from the office furniture supplier shows that only 56 percent of employees surveyed reported their environment made them feel calm and relaxed, with only 54 percent feeling able to work in teams without being disturbed or interrupted. Nearly half of all respondents reported that they don’t have adequate spaces that support mindfulness and focus.

Bostjan Ljubic, vice president of Steelcase UK and Ireland said:

“Having a  mindful and healthy staff brings a competitive advantage in today’s business world, but to achieve this workers need supportive environments which give them the ability to focus and manage stress.

“The beginning of the year is an excellent time to take stock and take steps to ensure that the wellbeing experienced over the Christmas break continues in the work place.”

Based on this research, which examined the link between workers’ wellbeing and businesses’ bottom line, Steelcase recommends the following tips for businesses to overcome the seasonal hurdle:

  • Let there be light! Provide as many workers as possible with natural light and views to the outdoors. Workers exposed to natural lighting stay on-task for 15 percent longer than their sun-deprived counterparts.
  • A choice of posture. Research shows that workers switch between a variety of physical postures during their work day, if the space allows them to do so. Changing postures is physically energising and mentally stimulating.
  • Find a quiet zone. Open layouts encourage interaction among team members, but can also be distracting to some. The study showed that 49 percent of workers report not being able to concentrate easily, while the average person loses 86 minutes per day. The provision of a quiet space where workers can gather their thoughts and focus can do much to increase wellbeing in the workplace.
  • Use colour to set the tone. Choose the colours of your office furniture wisely: blue stimulates clear thought, yellow boosts creativity and lifts spirits and green creates a sense of calming balance.
  • Bring a little nature into your office. Plants aid concentration, increase productivity, and remove contaminants.
  • Take the chill off! Warmer temperatures can increase productivity. When the temperature increases from 20°C to 25°C, typing errors fall by 44 percent and typing output jumps 150 percent.
  • Use scent to increase performance. Typists make fewer errors when exposed to various scents: Lemon produces 54 percent fewer mistakes, jasmine 33 percent and lavender 20 percent.

Ljubic added:

“Workers should be given the opportunity to keep the positive mindset they experienced in the holidays and be given the opportunity to take time out to contemplate their objectives throughout the year.

“Our research has shown that providing workers with a quiet space where they can escape from the bustle of the office environment and think things through is a simple yet effective way of helping them to maintain the increased energy levels built up over the holiday period.”