Wellness, and corporate wellness in particular, is multidimensional. The most commonly described sub-dimensions include social wellness, occupational, financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Recently, a new dimension has been added: environmental wellness. You may not consider environmental wellness to be part of your overall corporate wellness plan, but the environment you work in and how you feel about it can have a huge impact on the way you and your employees feel overall.
With most office workers spending up to 90% of their days indoors, it is not surprising that the quality of the indoor environment can affect your employees’ health, wellbeing and ultimately, your organisation’s productivity and performance.
Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) refers to the quality of the air and environment inside buildings, based on pollutant concentrations and conditions that can affect the health, comfort and performance of the people who live and work in them, including temperature, humidity, lighting and acoustics.
According to the Green Building Council of Australia, poor IEQ results in higher rates of absenteeism, staff turnover, and sick leave, which most employers want to avoid.
If you are concerned about the health, wellness, safety and productivity of your staff, the following two new strategies will help improve the quality of your office environment, decrease absenteeism and staff turnover, and more importantly increase your employee’s productivity:
1. Use common indoor plants to grow fresh air
Recent research done in Delhi, India, found that by using three common green plants in the office we can grow fresh air, maintain industry indoor air quality standards, and improve staff wellbeing and productivity.
The three plants are Area Palm, Mother-in-law’s tongue and Money Plant. The Area Palm helps remove CO2 and convert it into oxygen, while the Mother-in-law tongue, also called bedroom plant, converts the CO2 into oxygen only at night. The Money Plant helps removing volatile chemicals from the air.
As explained by the Indian business owner Kamal Meattle during TEDIndia Conference, these three plants have been used and tested for 15 years in one of the biggest buildings in Delhi. The results produced are significant. By using these three plants, not only has the productivity of the employees increased by over 20%, but various physical impairments have been improved:
- Eye irritation decreased by 52%
- Respiratory issues decreased by 34%
- Incidence of headache decreased by 24%
- Lung impairment and asthma decrease by 12%
2. Adopt Feng Shui practices
The Chinese art or science of Feng Shui is based on the harmonious integration of the external environment into a building. It aims to ensure a continuous flow of energy throughout a space, avoiding energy “blocks”.
Some of the practices correspond to good common sense and necessitate no leap of faith to be adopted by the most sceptical management. Feng Shui’s traditional approach to designing work areas provides a refreshing way of taking a good look at how your organisation is seen by your customers and staff who make your business work:
- Provide a spacious and calm reception area with an uncluttered access through the working area.
- Keep work areas clean and neat, ensuring all cables are organised and out of the way.
- Create both open and private rooms and vary the decoration to create a warmer environment.
- Use plants and mirrors to avoid pillars and walls and help create a natural flow through the organisation which enhances a sense of wellbeing for employees.
Sources: Australian Corporate Wellness; TED at www.ted.com
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