By Daniel Hunter

The back to work blues following the festive holidays are a challenge for businesses and their employees, according to office furniture firm Steelcase.

However, research shows that prioritising employees’ wellbeing at work is one way to help overcome the seasonal hurdle.

Steelcase recently conducted research into the link between workers' wellbeing and businesses’ bottom line. They discovered that employees who are in a positive frame of mind are not only healthier, but more productive at work.

The research also shows that:
· Only 56 % of employees reported their environment enabled them to feel relaxed and calm
· Only 54 % reported being able to work in teams without being interrupted or disturbed
· Nearly half of all workers surveyed said they didn’t have adequate spaces that support mindfulness and focus.

For many office workers the return to work after the festive period and the sight of a crammed inbox makes the heart sink.

It is important that workers be helped to reap the benefits of the festive break and turn them to good advantage.

Employers should be aware of the importance of staff wellbeing and help workers to see the start of the New Year as an opportunity to focus on aspirations and achievements.

Among the steps Steelcase advises employers to take to enhance their staff wellbeing are:

• 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 per cent longer than their sun-deprived counterparts.
• A choice of posture. Research shows that workers switch between a variety of physical postures during their work, 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 per cent and typing output jumps 150 per cent.
• Use scent to increase performance. Typists make fewer errors when exposed to various scents: lemon produces 54 per cent fewer mistakes, jasmine 33 per cent and lavender 20 per cent.

Bostjan Ljubic, vice president of Steelcase UK and Ireland says: “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 well being experienced over the Christmas break continues in the work place.

“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.”

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