Well-being is often defined as an individual concept. How does this concept relate to a workplace full of people?
“When you look at individual models for well-being from an organizational point of view, almost all the dimensions rely on people’s personal activities for improving their own wellbeing, whereas well-being in an organization does not merely rely on individual actions. Well-being is a holistic topic that needs to be measured in a holistic manner. There are two main things to take into account: that people vary, and in our current work climate there is limited space for emotional variation.”
How can you cater to different people with differing feelings at work?
“It’s important to take the diversity between people into account, meaning that organizations should always provide plenty of variations on how to work. The work environment needs to be adaptive – being in control of your own environment is key to productivity. Think of personal climate control, the freedom to add plants or allowing for stimulating scents. It’s important to provide freedom and environmental stimuli.”
(See diagram for an organizational model for measuring well-being at the workplace.)
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the current work climate?
“In most workspaces, there’s a lack of autonomy. Common problems employees are having is not being able to open a window or not able to switch places and work in a space without background noise. Another factor is bad leadership: putting too much pressure on employees, not paying attention to individual talents, and not facilitating personal growth.”
What changes should organizations make to improve well-being in the workplace?
“Organizations should focus more on the long term. On the short term, it can be tempting to put pressure on employees to work late for a deadline, while it is much more profitable to help employees get enough sleep and be physically active at work in the long run. It’s important to keep employees engaged. A way to do that is by adding a bit of gamification to make people more aware of the indoor climates at work. Another way is by providing employees with wearables and giving them incentives for accomplishing certain amounts of steps, for example.”
(Image: Prooff BeTween, a concept by Studio Makkink & Bey that encourages adapting the work environment to one’s needs.)
What would your future work landscape look like ideally?
“It should have a large variety of workspaces. Ranging from a white cube with a lot of daylight blocked from all wireless signals to a lively cafe. Ideally, they would all be set up in a forest. The work landscape would be divided into zones, varying from a do-not-disturb zone to zones with more interaction. The spaces will be filled with both friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. You can choose which space fits your needs and what people you want to encounter. This curation of spaces and social encounters would give you the autonomy to choose your ideal environment for working."
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