Designing work for well-being? The end of the work/life balance
Is anachronistic thinking holding your business back? As we take the bumpy road out of this pandemic, it’s become quite a thing in nearly every country on earth.
Anachronistic thinking? It’s jumbling up the old ways with the new world. For example, many still talk about a work/life balance; not fully realising that it’s been zoomed out of existence. perhaps a better term to use now might be the work/life equation, since the pandemic has shown us all that well-being is no longer about balancing work with life but integrating them.
In the years to come, organizations that integrate well-being into the design of work at the individual, team, and organizational levels will build a sustainable future where workers can feel and perform at their best.
With COVID, organizations suddenly found themselves called upon to prioritize workers’ physical and mental well-being as a matter of survival, as protecting their health and alleviating their stress became critical to operations. Work and life, health (emotional, physical, mental), safety, and well-being became inseparable.
How to design well-being into work?
Recognizing the inextricable link among our well-being, our work, and our lives has led more organizations to think deeply about ways they can design well-being into work itself so that both workers and the organization can thrive moving forward.
Have you fully considered the future of your workplace given this new paradigm?
For starters, you need to take account of all the environments that exist for your staff in the workplace, including cultural, relational, operational, physical, and virtual.
In terms of your physical work environment, for example, you can make immediate improvements by designing or adapting your work space to encourage walking.
Shared spaces such as team collaboration lounges, food service locations, and even printer/copier rooms should be placed within a pleasant walking distance of individual workspaces. Generally that means giving them a central location rather than tucking them away in a corner.
You could also provide active furniture such as sit-stand workstations, treadmill desks, and possibly even cycling workstations (Not a bad idea!). Workers of all ages are realizing that working does not necessarily require sitting. Phone calls, answering emails, and even other types of focus work can be accomplished while getting exercise at the same time.
While your workers may not always want to take the time to do a yoga class or work out at the gym during the workday, these active furniture options let them build a little more activity into their day.
You could also include dedicated & convertible exercise spaces such as yoga rooms, running tracks and even swimming pools, allowing staff to move and get exercise without leaving the office.
Designing Work for Well-Being at Different Levels
Organizations looking to build well-being into work should consider actions, policies, and mandates at three levels – individual, team and organizational.
For example, at the organizational level you could:
- Form teams based on worker preferences, working styles and personal needs
- Embed ‘well-being’ into work scheduling, performance management processes, leadership evaluations and rewards and recognition programs
- Design work environments to support workers’ physical, mental and emotional health needs
At the team level:
- Model well-being behaviours such as taking micro-breaks or making only certain meetings video-based
- Allow teams to adopt well-being practices best suited to their needs
- Leverage physical workspaces to promote team collaboration and performance
- Use new technologies like virtual reality to train team members to navigate stressful situations (e.g., interacting with a frustrated customer)
Individually, people should also take ownership over their well-being by being proactive and vocal about their well-being needs.
Work/life balance: A concept of the past
The design of well-being into work is a practice that needs to be modelled and developed over time to be effective. As work itself changes at a rapid pace, the ways that an organization supports individual and team well-being must adapt in tandem.
It’s no longer about achieving work-life balance. When an organization is able to successfully design well-being into work, well-being becomes indistinguishable from work itself, embedded across all organizational levels and environments to drive and sustain not only human performance but also human potential. Welcome to the future of work!
If you’d like to know more about how to re-imagine your work place to improve worker well-being, then don’t hesitate to contact us at CXC Global!