The sustainable workplace of the future – Part 2: Employee wellbeing and the path to sustainability
3 mins read
In the first of our three-part blog series, we discussed the changing nature of our workplaces post Covid-19.
In this second blog, we are going to delve deeper and look at the first two pillars of the sustainable workplace – employee wellbeing and sustainability.
The first question businesses may ask themselves is what sustainability in the modern workplace will look like. Is it about environmental policies, having a ‘living wall’ of plants in the foyer, or allowing employees to work flexibly in modern tech-heavy offices? What’s more, how are these policies and initiatives replicated both in physical offices and for those working from home, and will they contribute to employee wellbeing? In many ways, it’s a combination of all these elements and more – though the living wall is optional.
Pillar one: sustainability
If we learned anything from 2020 it is that ‘digital by default’ is here to stay whatever happens in the short-term. Digital by default means organisations allow employees to work from anywhere - with minimal disruption to the business - and is key to enabling genuine flexibility. The knock-on effect on sustainability is hugely positive, and helps organisations to reduce their environmental impact and think ‘green’.
It means less people commuting, decreasing the number of consumables used, and contributing to a smaller carbon footprint. Office spaces will still be needed, but they should be adapted, allowing for more space for employees to meet, and an increased number of hot desks for remote employees visiting the office for meetings. Offices are likely to become a hub for employees to meet and come up with new creative ideas rather than everyone simply doing the 9-5. As such, for those office spaces that remain, the principles of reusing and recycling should be a given to help towards sustainability (as well as reducing business overheads).
Pillar two: employee wellbeing
The second core pillar is employee wellbeing. After all, a happy workforce is more productive than an unhappy one. In fact, workplace related stress and mental illness are estimated to cost British businesses £26bn a year. A significant element of reducing stress is ensuring that technology is niggle-free, and employees have access to flexible and engaging ways of work that suit their preferences. All the tools, technology, security protection and networks needed for the workplace need to be accessible in a single, seamless interface. This intuitive approach has benefits for the business too, increasing collaboration, employee productivity and efficiency.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that an environmentally friendly workplace (pillar one) will boost employees’ wellbeing, as well as making it easier to recruit and retain talented people. Research suggests that three quarters of UK office workers want their employer to strengthen its sustainability policy. If organisations put in place the pillars of the sustainable workplace there are significant gains to be made. As much as thoughts might turn to break-out rooms with ping-pong tables and treadmills, for the remote worker these are irrelevant. It is time to go beyond tactical changes and instead rethink everything from infrastructure, security and risk, to organisational culture and management. In our third and final blog we’ll be looking at how collaboration and agile working play a role – so be sure to check back for the next post soon.
Cloud Centre of Excellence Director and IT
James has 20 years of experience in IT consulting and services, managing teams that help customers achieve transformation and deploy new technology. Originally from a software development background, he has been particularly focused on cloud adoption over the last 10 years and how it enables digital transformation. He joined Capita in 2016 and is now focused on developing the division’s products and services to drive growth.