Blog - Keeping pace with workplace wellness

Photograph of Shed 10, outside of the venue for Corenet Symposium

Shed 10, Auckland

Last week I went up to Auckland to attend a very interesting symposium on Workplace Wellness. As someone who works intentionally to make a positive difference in workspaces, I’m delighted to say this event was run by CoreNet Global, a worldwide industry group for people working in corporate real estate and related industries such as architects, property investors, interior designers, furniture manufacturers and office fit out specialists.

What excited me so much about this event was that, as I have found out in my own work area, the best place to be positioned to create a workplace which feels good, works well and provides a healthy environment, is right at the outset, at the point of building or fit-out.

This is because thought needs to be given to who is working in a building, what tasks they will be doing in this space and what layout and set up is going to work for them. And here, right in front of me at Shed 10, (a spacious venue right by the Auckland harbour on Queen’s Wharf) was a highly influential group of people who work and lead the way in the corporate workplace arena, providing a forum for education and discussion on this topic.

The first speaker was Jim Taylour, Head of Ergonomics at Orangebox in the UK. His focus was on the “invasion” of mobile technology and the impact it is having on school environments as well as in workplaces. He comments that “How and where we work is in a state of flux. Within our workplace we are experiencing more change, more quickly than at any time in the last 25 years.” Changes are happening in technology, work practices (main office, hot desking, working on the move, at home), generational differences, as well as transient working populations.

According to a survey conducted as part of the research-based report Jim was involved with, (working together with Patrick W. Jordan)  the fixed workstation is still the most common place where people work (91%) but the vast majority also now work away from their workstation some of the time; 88% are on the move at some point;  75% work ‘somewhere else in the office’, 70% work from home, 40% share a desk and 25% are ‘other’ (for example, working in cars or working in ‘other’ office). I wonder what the percentages are here in NZ?

Jim foresees a tablet invasion in the next five years, with a tablet being a common item for everyone to be using. While this may be handy for making sure we have information at our fingertips, the risks of severe neck problems through long periods of tablet use needs to be recognised. To this end he has put together a pocket guide for mobile technology users as well as a pocket guide for employers.

Through Orangebox, he is aiming to help organisations recognise and adapt to these changes, to keep design human-centred and to find ways of working better that suit people’s lives. He cited research which has shown that for every $1 spent on workplace wellness, you get $3 back.

Jim finished with a final note reminding us to use our ‘walkie talkies’ when wanting to talk to someone else in the office – in other words, don’t email…. get up and walk!

He really was an inspiring speaker (among other great speakers, who I will talk about in a future blog). Meantime, remember, just keep yourself moving and watch your neck position on that tablet or iphone!