Mental health in (and out) of the office
As many move back to the offices, whether full-time or hybrid, there’s a palpable sense that our lives are starting to return to normal. However, a change that must be seen in this ‘new normal’ is more open discussions at work around mental health.
That’s not a ground-breaking statement - much has been said on the topic, and the mental stress of the last 18 months is a well-known issue. What we can add to however, is fresh guidance on employees ensuring their workers are supported. At Huckletree, we strive to go above and beyond for our members, and we can see first-hand the benefits of a focus on mental health when re-opening the office space, so employees feel both supported in their work and headspace.
Back to the physical space
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of flexibility and balance when it comes to home life and work life. Prolonged working from home can be particularly challenging, from those juggling childcare to young people in house shares - 64% of Gen Yers and 80% of high-performers were missing the office during the spring 2020 lockdown.
Coming into the physical space of the office can now help give a sense of sanity, a welcomed change to the four walls that are now called office and home.
Cultivating a positive mental space
Dedicating space specifically to wellness shouldn’t just be encouraged, but - by now - be a universal standard. We hope our Huckletree West Hub is a leading example of what can be done.
We have a beautifully constructed meditation Yurt which our users can go in to use individually or join one of our headspace heaven sessions, specifically designed as a mini-escape to the working environment. To further compliment our interior design we’ve proudly invested in our surrounding plants which not only breathe life into our decor but have been proven to help relieve stress.
According to BloomBoxClub, a monthly plant subscription startup, plants help us feel relaxed while alleviating the body’s response to stress. Monthly subscriptions like these are great incentives and perks which some businesses have started to include into their employee’s packages.
One of our members, Butternut box, a bespoke dog food brand, have helped invigorate team morale with weekly socials such as rounders. Their leaders realised the importance of having the team back to the office, but also understood that some things would have to change physically.
The layout of the office was changed and spaces (once crammed with desks) now give room to break-out spaces. Other members such as Colart, the international supplier of art materials, also got rid of half their desks specifically to create a tea and prayer room for their workers. This is a trend we’re seeing more and more from our members, a move away from workspace towards breathing space.
A typical office space limits what you can do and where you can create more room for workers. What we’re finding, however, is due to the communal breakout space, friendships and social groups are forming between companies in our hubs, helping to create communities within our wider ecosystem, which is fantastic to see,
To further encourage new friendships and working bonds, we’re looking into activities such as running clubs which can be IRL or via digital communities with help from the likes of Strava, which even over the weekend, can help members connect with each other.
The future of mental health in the office
Looking to the future, companies will have to compete with each other on cutting-edge wellness policies to ensure staff retention and their own efficiency. One easy win here is offering free food, which we’re seeing as a growing trend.
We’ve started to see people booking meeting rooms daily for much longer periods, which brings a greater need to feed the team. Consequently, we now offer optional catering to meeting rooms when people book them via companies like Feedr, who offer fantastic, seamless options for prepared meals.
In the future, our wellness packages will include food as well as sessions with partners of ours like Peloton. These partnerships are designed to give our members yet another way to relax and escape the busy workday while working up some much-needed serotonin.
These partnerships can be invaluable to your employee’s wellbeing and will be a colossal trend in the near future. For example, Remeo Gelato, members in our White City hub’s FoodTech zone, have generously installed an ice cream freezer for fellow members. Other relationships we hope to collaborate with further in a similar way are with the likes of Laylo, the premium wine box company, Waterbomb the eco-conscious fruit water and juice company, and the delicious no-bull Collective dairy.
It’s great that conversations are being had by companies regarding mental health, but we haven’t even scratched the surface. We need bigger conversations to be had to raise awareness of the importance of avoiding burnout.
The onus should be taken off the employees to reach a tipping point and for it to go back on employers to include safeguards into the work culture. Using some of the fantastic startups mentioned above can be a brilliant, easy start.
The movement is here to stay, do your bit.