Gone are the days of all or nothing: mandatory in-person vs. working from home at the height of the covid-19 pandemic. Today, many organizations are taking a fresh look at ways to support workers to perform their best, including prioritizing wellness.
“Productivity has been a focal point when it comes to challenges around hybrid work, but the discussion has evolved to meet a growing number of needs,” says Michelle Micuda, president of Staples Professional Canada. “When you consider the challenges employers are navigating with the changes in work, it’s about how to balance flexibility while also building culture to ensure teamwork and collaboration are at the forefront.”
According to the 2022 Future of Work Trend Report developed in partnership with Staples Professional and Angus Reid Group, nearly one half of workers and one third of employers were concerned about productivity heading back into the office. A closer look at other top-of-mind concerns—including maintaining a healthy work-life balance—suggests that focusing on creating better working environments could reap rewards.
“Prioritizing wellness for all, including hybrid workers, who split their time between home, a workplace and elsewhere is becoming the key topic now. Wellness has a real impact on every part of an individual’s work and personal life,” said Micuda. “When employees are feeling supported from a health and wellness perspective, they’ll feel more productive and engaged. That positivity leads to better teamwork, better collaboration and ultimately a better corporate culture,” she adds.
Elevating ergonomics to promote wellness at work
Just as office life has evolved, so too has the concept of workplace wellness. While once upon a time health-based initiatives may have focused on benefits packages and lifestyle programming, the return to the office has made workplace wellness a more holistic endeavour—starting with the work environment.
For Micuda, optimizing workplace wellness starts with looking at the individualism by which people use various workspaces, whether that’s a home office or the company HQ.
“Ensuring people have a healthy set-up from an ergonomic standpoint is the new standard,” she says. “Businesses are now really considering how they need to provide flexibility as a part of wellness at work to optimize social connection when working remotely.”
Getting started on a path to better employee wellness can be done without knocking down walls and major construction projects. For Debbie Rogers of Staples Professional’s Sales and Strategy Training of Furniture and Technology division, the move to healthier workplaces starts with adopting the key principle that made workers enjoy working from home: a workspace inspired by productivity.
“The office really has to offer the same level of comfort as people have enjoyed the last few years. If I’m working from home, I have a space that has great sunlight. I can look outside when I want to. I can adjust my lighting, I can adjust the level of distraction within my space,” Rogers says. “Organizations are seeing that the more flexibility you give people in choosing where they work, the more productive and satisfied they become.”
Employers can make an impact with changes as small as:
- Ergonomic desks and chairs
- Adding fresh, bright paint and plants
- Setting up informal seasonal outdoor meeting spaces
- Upgrade to better technology to reduce frustrations associated with more focused work or hybrid meetings
“Staples Professional provides many solutions to achieve healthy, productive spaces,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
Whether it’s small changes such as providing noise-cancelling headphones or full-scale office revamps, wellness at work is imperative. “I believe if you have employees that are not engaged and not feeling like their employer is taking care of their wellness, it’s going to lead to turnover, which is one of the highest costs employers have to deal with,” Micuda says. “Investing in wellness is good for business.”