This post that explores the role of Transparency and Community has in creating a workplace that supports mental health.
A few years ago, we did a study of workplace patterns of a major Australian legal firm and found that a small but significant percentage of lawyers had minimal or no contact with their colleagues in a typical work day. They could hide out in their offices all day and avoid human contact. No wonder research shows that lawyers have one of the highest rates of depression amongst office workers. 1.
One of the strategies to address this problem for this law firm was creating a more transparent workplace. i.e. being able to see and be seen in the workplace through architectural elements like:
- Minimising solid partitioning-even though there were offices they had lots of glass, so colleague could see colleague
- Breaking bread together-encouraging people not to eat at their desks (including dinner!) by providing a great place to eat. Interesting stat form our study-something like 39% of the lawyers ate dinner at their desk at least once a week.
- Atriums and connecting stairs-being able to see all parts of the business and visually connecting practice groups. This is a physical reminder that each lawyer is part of a larger community.
Cultures that have a strong sense of community have some of the longest living people in the world. How do we create a workplace community in the age of flexible and mobile working?We can do this virtually but how about physically? Community is all about communication and developing a common culture.
We can help enable community by creating opportunities for connections. Some examples are creating pathways that have ‘bump factor‘-places where people naturally bump into each other and can start conversations. I’ve already mentioned the importance of placemaking in Part 1. A hub centred around food and drink is another great way to help create communities. Some organisations facilitate special interest communities by creating spaces for music, gardening and even bee keeping.
With thoughtful planning we can incorporate these planning principles into a workplace design to create connections and foster communities and create a workplace that has a positive impact on mental health.
means that you can grow your business without growing your headcount. Here’s
four ways to make sure you right size your workplace:
- Measure how your existing space is being
- Develop a core and flexible space
- Plan for change
A common theme
that we’ve come across lately when planning new workplaces is “growing without growing”. This means
growing business profitability and revenue without growing staff numbers or
even reducing staff. This is happening across all business sectors in
intelligence, machine learning, and automation means that routine tasks are no
longer undertaken by people. Customers accept and embrace doing work that was
previously undertaken an organisation. Most of us now accept the reality that
to get almost anything done there is an on-line form or a virtual assistant to
deal with. Routine tasks have been offshored for a long time now and its only
going to increase.
workplace strategists and designers asked the question how much will staff
numbers grow and how do we plan for growth? Now the question is how do you plan
for a workplace that will be area static or even shrink? Combined with the
increase in flexible working arrangement, mobile working and economic
uncertainty the difference between what you have now and what you need in the
future can be significant.
How do you plan
for this uncertainty when you are about to renew your lease or relocate to new
premises? Here are three things to consider:
Measure how your existing space is being
study undertaken over a minimum of 2 weeks can show how people are using the
workplace vs employed in an enterprise. Combined with a workstyle survey the
data can provide a good indication of how many workspaces are required.
Core and Flexible space strategy
your minimum viable space requirement (core space) is and utilise co-working or
flexible space for the rest.
Plan for change
change can mean flexible lease terms where you structure your lease terms incrementally
take up, hand back or sublet space on a regular basis.
The real lesson is don’t just count the
number of staff and multiply it by an area per person. You will almost surely
get it wrong. A good Workplace Strategy that right sizes your space requirement
can save you from paying for space you don’t need.
For more information about how right-size
your workplace go to www.5projects.com.au or call me