Now more than ever the employee work structure is being analysed, as the covid pandemic caused many business models to change, and many are yet to go back to ‘normal’. As many businesses switched to fully remote teams, whilst others never left the office, and some have converted to a hybrid working model people are now questioning “what structure works best?”

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It is important that businesses are stepping back and analysing which structure works best for both their business and their employees - and if they are choosing to return all employees to the office full-time, it must be fully equipped to support their needs. 

A recent study by Unispace has revealed that most office spaces are not set up to support mental wellbeing in today’s hybrid working environment.

Reflecting on World Mental Health Day – a time to make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority – Unispace has cautioned that the majority of offices are not set up to support mental wellbeing in a hybrid environment. According to research from the firm, a staggering 95% of employees would like to see improvements to their physical office space, suggesting that many are unhappy with their current workplace.

In its report – which surveyed 3,000 office workers across Europe – Unispace also found that almost half (47%) of the workforce felt that remote working had had a positive impact on their mental health. This suggests that a significant proportion of office workers believe that going into the office could have an impact on their mental wellbeing. With many employers discussing mandating full-time returns to the workplace, considerations must be made to ensure the wellbeing of the workforce is being protected.

According to the study, a lack of appropriate facilities and designs that do not support hybrid working is the driving force of this crisis. While 74% indicated a desire for separate spaces to collaborate and work individually, a further 21% indicated they wanted access to more outdoor spaces or greenery at work.

The report also revealed that 75% of office workers across Europe have missed the social element of the office. With social interaction known to bolster mental wellbeing, Unispace has warned that failure to adapt offices to ensure staff can thrive at work could be detrimental to staff wellbeing.

Claire Shepherd, Chief Operating Officer, at Unispace, commented: “The link between office design and mental wellbeing is often overlooked, but the fact that almost half of the workforce felt that their mental health improved while working from home, highlights that too many workplaces do not meet the needs of the people that use them. We know that the office - a place that many of us are returning to on a more regular basis - can support mental wellbeing, from the positive collaboration and socialisation opportunities our colleagues afford us, to easy access to amenities, and much more.

“Small changes can have a huge impact as well, from colour schemes to lighting and representations of nature, to acoustics, and room temperatures. But it all starts with truly understanding your colleagues and their needs. Having gone through a difficult period that has tested the resilience of us all, businesses need to consider what more they can do to proactively support the mental wellbeing of their workforce.”