A chill out zone is a good place to take a break from technology for 10 or 15 minutes. Relax away from your desk on comfortable furniture, think of nothing in particular or practise some breathing exercises. You’ll feel so much better.
It’s just been Cranky Co-Workers’ Day in the States. For what it’s worth, I think the vast majority of people who are bad-tempered at work have a reason, and that reason may well be found at work itself.
There’s a lot of stress at work
How many people make up ‘a lot of stress’?
Well, latest UK annual figures show a staggering 440,000 people suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
That’s 1,380 people in every 100,000 workers.
And 9.9 million working days lost – in one year.
There are lots of reasons people might be stressed at work but common ones are workload pressures like tight deadlines or too much responsibility, and a lack of managerial support.
A healthy office environment can help alleviate stress
It appears that the key to happier, healthier and more productive employees is giving them some say in how their workspace looks. This can range from the design and set-up of a new space to input into office facilities such as the staff kitchen or workstation furniture. Treadmill desk, anyone?
Research at the University of Exeter shows that employees who have control over the layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier — they’re also up to 32% more productive.
Non-threatening and enjoyable team-building days can help everyone get along together. Or keep it simple: go out for lunch, or have a drink together occasionally after work.
Or eat healthy food together in the subsidised canteen?
What about a chill out zone?
Yes, this is an excellent, practical and simple idea and it shows the business is serious about creating a healthy working environment. A pleasant and quiet place with natural light – this could be indoors or could be a garden – is a good place to take a break from technology for 10 or 15 minutes. And it’s also a good place to practise calming breathing exercises.
These quiet spaces tend to be more effective at reducing stress levels than areas with noisier activities such as table football and vending machines. Noisier games areas are thought (by Google, for example) to be good for creativity and also for encouraging people to stay at work longer – perhaps not such a healthy thing.
Calming colours can help. Green or blue walls, for example, can really help to lower stress levels in some people. For other people, clean and uncluttered areas work best. Comfortable seating is a must.
Greenery in and around a building or garden is also calming by its very presence. And plants help to improve air quality by absorbing toxins and emitting oxygen, enabling people to breathe more easily and reducing discomfort such as headaches. A peace lily is a good choice as a start.
But there has to be an active corporate culture of wellbeing
We’ve talked about managing exam stress before.
When it comes to work stress, the individual can only do so much.
For real change there has to be an active corporate culture of wellbeing. Organisations and businesses have to believe in and actively promote healthy behaviour at work. This includes recognising the dangers of a 'long hours at work' culture, and really understanding that staff taking time away from their desks in the chill out zone are not avoiding work.
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