The demands of the modern workforce are a radical departure from generations passed. You only have to look in the shared kitchen fridge to know that.
Next to the red tops, green tops and blue tops that the traditionalists splash into their instant coffee granules every morning is an array of different cartons. Cartons that have only found their way into the office fridge door within the past three/four years or so. Cartons of plant milk, oat milk, rice milk, nut milk, coconut milk, soy milk… you name it, there’s a milk for it and this milk-based menagerie is our metaphor for today’s continually diversifying working world.
Not only does this spectrum of beverages represent the physical and social diversity that comprises the multifaceted modern workplace, they’re also symbolic of a pivotal change in corporate culture. We’re at the beginnings of an evolution in what is required of workplaces today and one of the most ring-leading factors in this invigorating revolution is ‘the wellbeing of it all’.
What do we mean by wellbeing?
Wellbeing isn’t a tick box checked off by keeping a well-stocked fruit bowl on the reception desk and cracking open beers at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. Of course, these are little luxuries which all contribute to keeping smiles on faces but these days, workplace wellness runs much, much deeper than that.
Now, it’s about nurturing physical and mental vitality through various different means for individuals who are working within a fast-paced, high-pressure, constantly-connected environment. While our minds and bodies are robust and tenacious, they’re also incredibly delicate and easily damaged.
So, what can the workplaces of today do to cultivate this happy, healthy generation?
We all need a network of support to give us a leg up every now and again and coworkspaces foster the exact sense of community and solidarity required. Coworking is also about cross pollination of micro-communities and the unlikely merging of minds which would otherwise have never crossed flight paths.
Somewhere to escape hustle, bustle & technology
Ongoing tech advancements are powering the modern working world and breeding a whole new epoch of start-ups and innovators. That said, common knowledge and scientific research dictates that monitoring attachment to technology is crucial for mental wellbeing. So, it’s great and we can’t possibly live without it but there needs to be a certain equilibrium – so what’s the answer?
Well, a just bit of respite every now and then is all it takes. Providing non-connected spaces where individuals can go with a book, a pen & a pad, a friend or just simply their own thoughts is paramount in fostering better workplace wellness. In a positive twist of irony, pressing pause on screen time to embrace analogue creativity occasionally will actually do wonders for how you work ‘back at the screen’.
More human-centric workspace design
Mad Men might be cool as hell and Don Draper might look like a real fox sat there in his glass box office while Peggy and her other lesser female colleagues tap away at their bench desks – but we’re not in mid-fifties Manhattan now. We’re in an era of inclusivity, gender equality and ergonomic usability – our workspaces need to reflect this or risk hacking off today’s up-and-coming talent pool.
Breakdown the professional hierarchy with dynamic coworkspaces which encourage collaboration and co-creation regardless of status. Invest in ergonomically designed office furniture which intuitively adapts to the natural flow of the human body. Make the workspace meet the demands of its inhabitants, not the other way round.
The meaning of life
You won’t need us to tell you that, as a generation, we are working longer and longer hours. We’re spending more time ‘at the office’ than ever before and as a result, the line between work and pleasure is becoming increasingly abstract. Not even just work and pleasure – work and life. The two are now so tightly interconnected that, to maintain virtuous wellbeing, they also need to be tangibly combined.
Children, pets, religious practices, lifestyle choices, personal schedules – they’re all examples of the variable elements of daily life which now bleed into the modern working day. Accommodating these through strategic workspace design, an encompassing brand culture and liberal workplace practices allow the flexibility Gen XYZ want – no, need – today.