Integrating biophilic design into your workplace

December 9, 2020

Integrating biophilic design into your workplace


The design that is intrinsically connected to our love for nature has emerged as one of the most highly recommended office design styles in the fit-out sector. 

 

Derived from the Greek words for “life” and “love” or “love of life” as a whole, biophilia is a manifestation of our love for nature in the form of design, decor, and structure. In other words, it is the practice of incorporating nature and natural elements into the built environment. It can be subtle like imitating forms of nature, or loud like plants walls and pillars, but regardless of how it’s presented, it provides several benefits for occupants in a biophilic workplace.

 

Trends And Concepts’ Principal Designer and VP for Design & Construction Management,  IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling shared her view on biophilic design, “Biophilia is the love for nature—people are known to be drawn to connect with nature, so adding natural elements inside a professional workplace brings out a more relaxed atmosphere.” 

 

“As we progress towards sustainable approach, humans recognize the need to transition to sustainable alternatives. Design practitioners engage in systems that connect human to nature, it isn’t enough that we only provide greeneries but we want to provide an eco-system that would assist in human’s understanding of ecological management. Therefore, changing their behavior towards a conscious culture.” She added. 

 

Among the many benefits of biophilia, here are the ones targeted to improve or help the well being of occupants:

 

  • Stress reduction and reduces comfort complaints
  • Reduce absenteeism and retain employees
  • Increases efficiency, productivity, and creativity of employees

 

Designs that focus on the wellness of occupants are emerging and are likely here to stay due to people shifting their concerns to being mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy inside and outside the workplace. Mental health has become more pronounced in recent years as well as the need to be sustainable. Biophilia is a design that can improve wellbeing while reconnecting people with nature.

 

The approach to biophilia can be subtle or loud, it can also be done to overhaul the whole workplace or only within one’s respective space. With its versatility to be integrated within the office, here are ways you can add biophilia into your workplace:

 

Bringing the outdoors indoors

One of the most common ways of achieving biophilia in the workplace is by adding plants in the office. From large potted plants to small plants, incorporating greenery within the workplace can be in various forms and sizes. Aside from its effects and being pleasing to the eye, plants can also be used as partitions and produce different functions depending on where you place it. 

 

You can also create a living green wall to help filter indoor air and place it within one section of your office, such as the lobby or beside windows. If you prefer the potted plants, you can simply scatter the plants randomly throughout the workplace, mimicking the vibrant structure of nature.

Small changes in the workplace with a big impact 

If you prefer to keep the way your office looks or opt-out of incorporating greenery. There are subtle ways of making your office healthier for occupants. Among the small changes with minimal visibility are providing more access to natural light or views of the outdoors, utilizing outside areas and gardens, adding hints of wood and stone elements, or introducing colors inspired by nature. 

Laissez-faire for individual workspaces

You can let your employees free rein their workspaces, such as letting them add their preferred small potted plants or placing photos of their outdoor adventures. There are several ways of how employees can design their desks according to their wants or needs. By allowing them to do this, the company encourages the individuality of each employee while embracing biophilia for wellness.

 

As the trend of bringing nature indoors steadily continues, elements of biophilia are slated to become the norm in modern offices. 

 

The many different ways of how you can tweak, renovate, or design your office will help shift the environment and atmosphere of the workspace leading to the improved wellbeing of employees. 

This approach of emulating wellness through spaces will also help convey a brand that cares for its occupants. Trends And Concepts have created and realized several designs that integrate biophilia within the office space. Having a total interior solutions company to realize your ideal office design will greatly benefit your employees and business in the long run.

 

Trends And Concepts Total Interior Solutions offers an exceptional range of design, build, and interior construction services ensuring that the ideals of their clients are met and go beyond their expectations. With years of expertise in the industry and successful completion of diverse office designs and fit-out projects, Trends And Concepts grew to be one of the most sought-after design and build service providers locally and globally.

To know more, visit http://www.trendsandconceptsinteriors.com/

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Managing and preventing burnout from work

October 26, 2020

Managing and preventing burnout from work


Stress is common for everybody. You can get stressed over simple scenarios. But burnout, on the other hand, is popular among employees due to severe exhaustion from deadlines and workload.

How do we get burnout?
A burnout, according to Mayo Clinic, is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion combined with doubts about one’s competency and work value. If untreated, burnouts can lead to health implications like coronary artery diseases, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

1. Lack of appreciation
On the manager’s note, employees’ motivation can be derailed with lack of appreciation.
Appreciation shouldn’t always have to be materialistic, a simple thank you should be enough recognition.
2. Poor working environment
When deadlines, workload, and co-workers with bad attitudes sum up together, employees will feel the dread to even be physically present at their stations.
3. Lack of support
Much like appreciation, support is expected from leaders or managers. Lack of support projects a careless personality towards the employees.
4. Pressure from stressors
Mental exhaustion due to various stressors could be a major factor of burnouts, especially with the pandemic occurring.
5. Lack of wider opportunities
Fewer opportunities could mean a dead end, which may affect the morale of the team. By, doing things over and over again without development of skills prove no achievement at the end of the day.

 

Avoiding burnout
Prevention is always believed to be better than cure. By doing so, preventing burnout should be a team effort rather than a solo struggle. Here are some ideas to drive away burnout:

1. Establish a smooth communication
Someone has to say something, especially if it is about improvements. Learn to listen to one another. If you’re a manager, encourage your team to speak of their difficulties.
2. Build great teams
It doesn’t have to be great in numbers. Similar interests and fitting personalities can make great chemistry among teams.
3. Harmony is better than balance
Without a doubt, balance is essential, especially between work and life. But harmony makes everything worth doing. Set your focus on what you love doing instead of what you are ought to do.
4. Take a break
A break could also mean vacation. But whatever it may be, if you know you deserve it, take it. It will recharge you physically, emotionally, and mentally.
5. Attend professional training
Nothing’s more satisfying than honing your skills and boosting your sense of direction rather than having a dead-end situation.
6. Set boundaries
You cannot be doing jobs around the clock. Learn how to unplug yourself from your screen, have a routine for work and passion, and avoid answering emails after work hours unless they’re urgent.

 

Remedies for burnout
Being free o burnout can be easier said than done, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips that may cure you of burnout:

1. Clear your thoughts, then go to sleep
If you want to take a nap or sleep, a mind full of tasks won’t let you close your eyes. Empty your thoughts and decide to do it after taking a rest. Everyone deserves a break after loads of work.
2. Exercise
It doesn’t have to be heavy or intense, but keeping yourself active and moving will improve your mood and flush out toxins from your body.
3. Socialize
Co-workers may share interests other than similar responsibilities. Instead of eating your lunch on your desk, try to eat with co-workers and socialize once in a while.
4. Learn to say “no”
“No” is somehow underrated among employees. If you know you can’t do it, then politely decline the task rather than exhausting yourself with regrets.
5. Selfish is sometimes self-love
Just like saying “no”, choosing what to work on can help you dodge difficult tasks. Challenges are good for skills to develop, but if you know it won’t be worth it and may break you, then it would be better to steer clear.

Taking care of ourselves may seem difficult if we put our work priorities over our own health. But by exercising work-life balance and a healthy routine, we can keep stress at bay or at the very least prevent burnout.

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Translating the process of human-centric design, its benefits, and long-term effects

October 14, 2020

In our built environment, far too often have we overlooked the significance of space to the well-being of a person. Nevertheless, through design and innovation, the formation of a holistic workplace can be within our grasp. When faced with intractable problems involving the environment and its end-users, a human-centered approach is the optimal method in creating a pragmatic solution tailored to the users’ needs.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) through its Human Capital Committee, explored the area of human-centered design and innovation in their recently held webinar entitled “Navigating towards a human-centric workplace” which took place via Zoom last September 18, 2020. The webinar was opened by ECCP Executive Director, Florian Gottein.

IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling covered the process of how one can achieve design solutions catered to the personality of users. She stated that human-centric design is an approach to problem-solving that begins with people and ends with creative solutions tailed to the users’ needs.

There are three phases in designing a workplace fit for purpose: Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation. Gail emphasized on knowing the user personalities, “Designing a solution that will work for everyone means talking to both extreme users and those merely in the middle of your target audience.”

Inspiration comes from users’ experience, which you are to gather, and this phase is aligned with headcount modeling. Meanwhile, the ideation phase is where you start making sense of the data you gathered from the users, generating ideas and solutions that may be discarded or kept. Lastly, the implementation phase is when you bring your solutions to life and to the users.

Gail explained what the process emanates in execution, “In collaboration with designers, you start refining the ideas and models into creative concepts established by the company-wide engagement you conducted… The users or the employees would feel that they were a part of it and that the space was intentionally designed for them.”

On her presentation of happiness and wellbeing in the workplace, Sujatha Ganapathy explains that our social and physical environment is the largest determinant of our health. She highlighted the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and how spaces can affect our health.

While there has been an uptick in sustainable developments, investing in the wellbeing of people can likewise bring fruitful outcomes such as improvements that increase occupant productivity. “The workplace should be designed in such a way that individuals have access to work environments that they need to best perform daily tasks,” said Sujatha.

Both employers and employees are finding the need to have a change in the workplace. A human-centered approach can help reshape the workspace to meet those needs of people. One of the important things businesses can offer their employees is an environment where they can feel safe, healthy, energized, inspired, and happy.

In terms of the facilities within our workplace, Binky Figueroa laid down a process that can best safeguard employees for their return to the office and adjusting to the new normal. Rethink, reimagine, and relearn.

According to Binky, as we shift our focus from maintaining facilities to focusing on people, there must first be training that employees have to undergo before returning to the workplace — this is the rethinking phase. In the reimagine phase, there should be an introduction and incorporation of new technologies that tighten the health and safety of employees.

Finally, in the relearning phase, Binky stressed “As we go towards workplace transformation, we’re about to start our journey or road to a conscious workplace culture.”

The webinar’s closing remarks were delivered by ECCP Human Capital Committee Chair Jose Bantiling.

A conscious workplace engages employees and evolves culture. In accomplishing a human-centered environment, the elements of innovation, design, and collaboration must be present. “Design thinking mindset is not for designers anymore only. It is a tool now to assist the stakeholders and the designers in producing a human-centric innovation,” expressed Gail.

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Workplace design strategy for an employee-centric environment in the COVID-19 landscape

August 19, 2020

Workplace design strategy for an employee-centric environment in the COVID-19 landscape


As the ease of lockdown restrictions grant the gradual reopening of the economy, companies look towards redesigning their workplace to mitigate the further spread of the virus and prioritize the health and safety of their employees all the while following government-mandated regulations.

Trends And Concepts (TAC) Principal Designer and VP of Design & Construction Management IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling tackled how companies can strategically design their office for the return of the workforce in the current and post COVID-19 landscape. “In this discussion, given that we spend 90% of our day in the workplace, we want to understand what a healthier environment means and what human-centric designs do to benefit your business,” said Gail.

Gail shared her presentation and insights in Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Phils., Inc. (ANZCHAM) virtual event entitled “Designing for a Healthier Environment and What it means for your Business” and in European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) webinar entitled “The Office Comeback: Legal Considerations and Design Insights on Re-opening Workplaces” where she is joined by Atty. Eliseo Zuniga Jr. and Atty. Patrick Henry Salazar of Quisumbing Torres.

 

Her presentation and study was also assimilated in The CoreNet Global Hackathon entitled “A COVID-19 Virtual Ideation Experience”. Gail shared how she and her team conceptualized design strategies for the future of the workplace and solutions to elevate employee-wellbeing.

Gail is part of Team 16 addressing the area of Workplace Wellbeing. Team 16 is led by Sujatha Ganapathy, Vice President of Knight Frank India. Members of Team 16, including Gail, are Ashwini Kuvalekar, Architect- Sustainable Solutions, Space Matrix Design Consultants Pvt Ltd, India; Norberto.Figueroa, Associate Director, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Philippines, Inc.; and Sandhya Hegde, Lead- Sustainable Solutions, Space Matrix Design Consultants Pvt Ltd, India.

The report by Team 16 first identified the risks found within enclosed settings, such as the workplace, that individuals are more likely to be exposed to and may impact their overall wellbeing.  The risks are mainly environmental, occupational, and behavioral.

“We’re still acknowledging the fact that the physical workplace is something necessary to keep and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It is a place after all where we do our business agenda or social gatherings in general,” Gail expressed before delving into her topic and sharing the workplace strategies can implement.

The initial steps in reconfiguring the workplace are by creating a one-way entrance and exit system to enforce the physical distancing rule. Afterward, identify which areas have high and low traffic zones in order to optimize areas that need adjustment for capacity as well as finding which ones can be converted to an additional workspace or temporary rooms. Lastly, provide clear directive routes through the use of physical markers, it should be straightforward yet visually enticing for the user to examine and follow.

For the reception area, ensure an enhanced entry and exit sequence, provide testing zones for temperature checks, take out unnecessary seats in consideration to physical distancing, and place sanitizing areas on visible spots.

De-densify the workplace to accommodate physical distancing can be achieved by using the high and low traffic zones guideline which indicates the tables that are to be occupied and determines the capacity per wing. Ideally, you want to take out equipment and seats on the unoccupied spaces, otherwise, you can make use of markers as dividers and sneeze guards between workstations for protection.

Similarly, workplace mapping can help ensure dedicated seats, personal accountability, and clear workable rules of conduct per user through alternate seating arrangements with a minimum of 1.5-meter physical distancing.

With the physical changes implemented within the workplace, facility management protocols are just as important as it goes hand in hand to promote safety and wellness in the office environment. “With intentional designs, operations, and policies, we can help occupants from becoming sick. Promoting practices that can keep occupants healthier,” said Gail.

Workplace design on wellness integration and infrastructure measures to prevent any type of disease or ill-conditions due to Occupational and Environmental factors are listed:

  • Limit exposure to Air Pollution & Infection Risks, External Factors
  • Access to Resources, such as water dispensers with safe drinking water as per the World Health Organisation.
  • Provide Comforting Needs – Space Placement, Interior Design, Engineering and Operational Facilities
  • Provision of contactless trash cans
  • Access Control System – Face-Scanning Biometric Solution/Application based systems for attendance log-in to avoid touching the surfaces
  • QR Code Scanner for Lift usage

 

Finally, Gail emphasized on employee-wellbeing, “As stakeholders, we have to consider the users – not only are we looking at the workplace in the lens of hygiene and sanitation, maybe we should try welcoming the idea of creating a space of quality, bringing emphasis to empathy and support, bringing in a lot of that data-driven design approach using intelligent and technology-based solutions, creating that symbiotic relationship between business continuity and employee-wellbeing.”

The hackathon’s result and final report for the area of Workplace Wellbeing states that the most important aspect for a re-entry strategy is the physical and mental wellbeing of an individual employee. Workplace wellness, initially a concept, may emerge as an industry with new products, practices, techniques, and strategies for companies to adopt and adjust for their respective spaces, building, and community.

There are several considerations to take into account and practices to implement for the safety of all. Testing and probing will be needed to confirm the efficacy and practicality of these workplace strategies. So long as there are opportunities for change and adaptation, companies can move forward during this period in protecting and preparing the office for the workforce.

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Promote sustainable initiatives for a healthier office environment

July 29, 2020

 

Promote sustainable initiatives for a healthier office environment


Companies and organizations with a background of being sustainable are more appealing to the new workforce and even customers and consumers are more inclined to-wards them. Gaining more customers is just the tip of what businesses can gain from going green.

There are numerous advantages to being sustainable and more eco-friendly, among the advantages are the following:

• Easily Attract and Retain Employees
• Higher Employee Morale
• Healthier Wellbeing
• Decrease Pollution in the air, earth, and water
• Reduce damage to natural systems and biodiversity

Usually, when people think of going green they immediately associate it with big cost and a complete overhaul in workplace design. False! Sustainability can be achieved through eco-friendly practices that you can easily implement inside the workplace. So, maybe there is a bit of an overhaul but more towards policies and practices. Listed be-low are some of the cost-effective practices you can promote for a healthier office environment.

 

• Recycling Program

You know how nowadays you can dispose of waste according to its material. There are color-coded bins used to separate glass from plastic and plastic from tissue or paper, all are part of a recycling program. Implementing a recycling program can help encourage your employees to consciously make better choices for themselves and the environment within and outside the office. On top of that, a recycling program minimizes emission from wastes in landfills and allows you to help others to make use of available resources.

 

• Conserving Energy

Ensuring all the lights are closed and electric wires unplugged is a simple yet cost-effective way to conserve energy within the office. Similar to a routine, it would be helpful to set up policies that urge employees to be more mindful of energy consumption. You can also opt for setting up light sensors, energy-efficient light bulbs, utilizing natural light, and using renewable energy sources (solar and wind power).

 

• Going Paperless and Plastic-free

Ever heard the saying, “save the turtles”? It became a viral phrase recently thanks to social media but it has also launched and pushed businesses to adopt more sustainable alternatives over plastic items. Employers can give out customized company tumblers for employees to use instead of plastic bottles. Eco-bags are also great to use for all types of occasions wherein you might need an extra pouch for your items. However, if you do happen to use a plastic bag—like the ones from supermarkets, then try to use it more than once and don’t let it be a single-use plastic that you’ll nonchalantly dispose of. Businesses should inspire workers to be responsible and conscious consumers for themselves but also the people and the environment around them.

Additionally, recycling and reusing papers are also encouraged. Think about all the times you had to print a form that only took up less than half the space of the paper. Don’t throw it away! You can reuse it as your draft or notes for work. That’s one way to address the paper problem. The other way is to go paperless and use a cloud drive for your business where all employees can access, upload, and download files. Gone are the days of distributing hard copy documents per person.

 

• Office Plants Indoors

Bringing the outdoors inside is to bring plants within the workplace and give them a loving space where they can emanate and create a healthier environment. Your work-place can improve wellbeing through ventilation thanks to plants, improve mood and productivity thanks to the greenery of plants, and overall improve air thanks to the col-lective number of plants found within the office. Also, plants are incredibly pleasing to the eye and aesthetic—so they basically fit in anywhere inside your office and make your place look welcoming.

 

• Mode of Transportation

Commuting is hard, especially if you work in areas considered as central business districts (CBD) where the traffic is intense. The modes of transportation in the Philippines are plenty but there’s a stark difference between public utility vehicles and ride-hailing private vehicles in terms of price and comfortability. But problems usually have solutions, if you have your vehicle, why not let coworkers who live nearby join you and carpool going to work? For employers, if you have employees who live nearby, why not provide bicycle racks, e-scooter and parking space for their zero-emission vehicles?

Another solution for the transportation problem is giving employees the option to work from home or conduct remote work elsewhere that is conveniently closer in distance to their home.

Image from wheels.ph

There are a lot of sustainable practices to adopt that are cost-effective and efficient. Acquiring resources is also not heavy on the pocket for most of what’s mentioned. Be-coming more eco-friendly presents how you care for your employees, for a healthy work environment, and the Earth as a whole. There are no criteria needed to start sus-tainable practices and initiatives, by promoting the right direction and policies, you can achieve a more sustainable workplace.

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Design colors to improve productivity

July 24, 2020

 

Design colors to improve productivity


Colors can be used as tools to further enhance or affect the mood of workers in the office environment, it places a subtle yet effective impact on how we perceive tasks at hand and our productivity and creativity. The various colors provide different diverse emotions and meanings that stimulate our minds and perspective.

To improve workplace productivity, read more about the different colors and how they influence your mood at work to create a more harmonious workplace atmosphere.

 

BLUE

An excellent and intellectual color that evokes the feeling of calmness and sheer focus. Adding blue to your workplace can help employees be more concentrated with their task at hand with clearer thoughts and pared down mental strain. It’s an absolute recommmeded color for productivity. To avoid an atmosphere that may seem cold or strict, try adding different accents of brighter colors such as yellow or orange.

Provides: Calmness and Concentration

Presents: Trust and Loyalty

 

GREEN

Easy on the eyes and stimulates the mind, you’ll want to add green if your office tends to be used for working long hours. In a black and white spectrum, green would be the shades of gray that presents balance. On top of that, you can add green to your workplace through the use of plants.

Provides: Calmness, Tranquility, and Efficiency

Presents: Balance, Harmony, and Nature

 

RED

More geared towards accelerating productivity and alertness in physical activities and labor. It’s been reported that the color red increases heart rate and blood flow. Hence, it’s recommended for physical tasks and if you want something in the office that would attract attention. The color red is best used in moderation as red decors or office furniture.

Provides: Increase in energy, Alertness, and Productivity in Physical Activity

Presents: Strength, Passion, and Excitement

YELLOW

Incorporating yellow into your workplace will help boost attention and memory level. Hues and accents of yellow are much better than the bright and loud ones. You’ll also want to accompany it with other colors. Yellow is best used to stimulate creativity and give off that sense of optimism.

Provides: Creativity

Presents: Optimism, and Confidence

These are all great colors to induce productivity in the workplace. Friendly reminder to keep it balanced and use these colors as sort of a complementary addition in your office through decors, pieces of furniture, backdrops, and more.

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The change of attitude in the New Normal workplace

July 15, 2020

The change of attitude in the New Normal workplace


 

The Philippine government declared the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March 16, 2020. And in less than three months, the pandemic has radically rewired processes we have known both in life and at work. The biggest process that most of us are all redefining is how to relate to the needed space apart from each other, also known as social distancing that we all need to apply resuming back to the workplace.

The challenge is clear. Workplaces must adapt. Yet, how do we design a workplace that responds not just to fear and anxiety, or the invisible threat of germs, but the full range of learned behaviors and attitudes that have evolved through the COVID-19 crisis?

The new normal workplace will now have to accommodate the heightened consciousness of space. This new mentality on space and touch, aid in germ mitigation and creates a comfortable, reassuring environment in the workplace.

The management should be able to communicate to the entire workplace that the workforce should be viable to adapt and accept that we’ve entered the new normal. Accelerate best practices around collaboration, flexibility, inclusion, and accountability.

Personal safety will be a priority, the “New Normal” workplace design is set to provide supportive features to reinforce a sense of safety and empower employees. Workplaces will need to adopt exceedingly clear and consistent communication protocols. Incorporating display safety signages will be applied as a mandated design for office communications throughout the floorplan. These said signages will play an important role. Signs that highlight what users can do as opposed to what they cannot in the workplace will assist in achieving higher reassurance from the employees.

Lastly, the need for mental health and well-being activities are to be a priority. The current crisis involves anticipatory grief compounding effects on those living with depression. Employers will need to invest in wellness and welfare well-being strategies to implement within the workplace.

To reimagine how to find the right balance between communal and private space. Designating separate, quiet, calm and truly private rooms offer flexible support for heads-down work, personal phone calls, or just a restful break. Such strategies still include the biophilic design, ergonomic work settings, and access to both active and meditative exercise activities. These options are best relevant and should receive more attention as the workforce return to the office from lockdown.

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Remote work wellbeing – how to stay healthy, engaged and productive at home

June 30, 2020

Remote work wellbeing – how to stay healthy, engaged and productive at home


At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies pushed for a new work set-up that would allow business continuity without compromising the health and safety of workers. This set-up is the work from home arrangement or remote work. This work scheme has been quite efficient for businesses, however, behind the continuous work progress, the mental health and wellbeing of workers have been affected.

 

People may be having difficulties adjusting to the work set-up, being in isolation due to the community quarantine, or feeling uncomfortable with their living situation. All of these are possible factors that may affect their mental health. But there are ways to address and help alleviate the effects of remote work during this pandemic.

 

First off, we have to look at the factors that may be causing issues and concern to people’s wellbeing.

The lack of in-person contact can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Humans are social creatures, and many thrive by physically interacting with other people. Remote working has diminished the physical form of socializing, and its repercussions can be harmful to the physical and mental health of a person. Another factor can be their living situation, with the pandemic affecting different sectors of the community, workers may have difficulties working and relaxing in the same environment. Burnout is also a factor since working from home could drive people to work more because they believe that they have more time at home to be productive.

 

There are a lot of different factors, that is why it’s essential to keep an open mind and be more empathetic to workers during this period. If you’re a team leader, an employer, or the HR for a company, take this suggested guidance in mind to help you and your workers have a healthy wellbeing.

 

  • Be mindful, understanding, and transparent

Your employees are facing different challenges with the current situation, they may be juggling with their roles at home while at work such, as caring for a family member. And with the restrictions of staying at home and adjusting to remote working, it may take a toll on their mental health. The best approach is to encourage your workers to inform you of what they are going through, and for you to understand their situation. They might already feel guilty or stressed for compromising their time or productivity. It is best to support them during this period through transparent communication and assure them that you care.

 

  • Encourage work-life balance and breaks

People may have this mindset of maximizing their time at home by being more productive and going the extra mile to work on tasks. If it starts to affect their physical and mental health, it is indeed burnout. Due to working at home, people may not be able to separate their space for relaxing and working. It is highly encouraged that people set up a different space for where they work, not necessarily an office room, but just a corner where they can focus on work. And because they’re already at home, workers may feel compelled to keep on working non-stop. You have to encourage work-life balance; turn off notifications after work hours, take a few breaks within the day, and create a water cooler where people can talk about things unrelated to work.

 

  • Do check-ins and provide support

Check-ins are similar to water coolers where you talk about things in your life outside of work. It allows you to know how your workers are feeling and get to know them more as they share about what they have been up to. This is a time where everyone can communicate freely and share encouragement. Check-ins can also build rapport and trust when an employee shares their troubles, this can be a great way to provide the support that is tailored fit for them. Additionally, for people feeling isolated, check-ins can be a great way to remedy that as it becomes an alternative way of social interaction through virtual communication tools.

 

Mental health and wellbeing are important more than ever for people working from home and even to those returning to their workplace. There is a lot of adjusting needed in both settings, as well as, concerns to take in mind during this shift to a “New Normal”.

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Strategies and solutions for Workplace Wellbeing presented in CoreNet Global Hackathon – Team 16’s study overview

June 29, 2020

Strategies and solutions for Workplace Wellbeing presented in CoreNet Global Hackathon – Team 16’s study overview


Addressing the challenges brought upon by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the corporate real estate industry, the CoreNet Global led a hackathon wherein members of the real estate community gathered together to develop solutions to respond to the problems posed by COVID-19 and immediate crisis in the future.

A hackathon, by definition, is a group of individuals convening to solve problems collectively and within a short, defined period of time. The CoreNet Global Hackathon entitled “A COVID-19 Virtual Ideation Experience” granted an opportunity for participants to ideate with peers across the globe and tackle the challenges in their selected topic. Over 1,000 members participated in the COVID-19 hackathon with representation from 35 countries in more than 90 teams. Teams addressed the following areas:

 

  1. Space Utilization and Metrics
  2. Distributed Work
  3. Workplace Wellbeing
  4. The Autonomous Workplace
  5. Environment and Climate Change
  6. Manufacturing and Industrial

 

Following the Workplace Wellbeing topic, the task given to the teams was for them to develop forecasts and key recommendations for corporate real estate professionals that address challenges and respond to wellbeing in the workplace.

In an interview with IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling, Principal Designer and Vice President of the Design and Construction Management at Trends And Concepts, she shared how she and her team conceptualized design strategies for the future of the workplace and solutions to elevate employee-wellbeing.

 

IDr. Bantiling is part of Team 16 addressing the area of Workplace Wellbeing. Team 16 is led by Sujatha Ganapathy, Vice President of Knight Frank India. The other team members are:

  • Ashwini Kuvalekar, Architect- Sustainable Solutions, Space Matrix Design Consultants Pvt Ltd, India
  • Figueroa, Associate Director, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Philippines, Inc.
  • Sandhya Hegde, Lead- Sustainable Solutions, Space Matrix Design Consultants Pvt Ltd, India

 

The report by Team 16 first identified the risks found within enclosed settings, such as the workplace, that individuals are more likely to be exposed to and may impact their overall wellbeing.  The risks are mainly environmental, occupational, and behavioral.

“When we were doing the study, I figured to be able to answer the problem – we have to start first by looking at the problem and the problem is how could we create a workplace environment driven by wellbeing for the modern workforce,” shared IDr. Bantiling.

The future workplace strategy they presented takes into consideration the efficiency of the building, surrounding environment, available resources, and the measures needed in planning a new workplace or retrofitting an existing office to mitigate the aforementioned risks.

 

In their presentation, they proposed various strategies for the future of the workplace that underscores both big and small details that enable a harmonious and healthier living environment. Similarly, IDr. Bantiling discussed her design insights in a different platform, which also showcase a thorough guideline on enclosed physical spaces that promotes health and wellness in the current and post COVID-19 landscape.

Read more: Workplace design strategy for an employee-centric environment in the COVID-19 landscape

Additionally, workplace design on wellness integration and infrastructure measures to prevent any type of disease or ill-conditions due to Occupational and Environmental factors are listed:

  • Limit exposure to Air Pollution & Infection Risks, External Factors
  • Access to Resources, such as water dispensers with safe drinking water as per the World Health Organisation.
  • Provide Comforting Needs – Space Placement, Interior Design, Engineering and Operational Facilities
  • Provision of contactless trash cans
  • Access Control System – Face-Scanning Biometric Solution/Application based systems for attendance log-in to avoid touching the surfaces
  • QR Code Scanner for Lift usage

 

 

Other aspects that are equally important in a workplace environment are programs for employees to encourage a healthier lifestyle, educational resources, and facility management protocols.

The hackathon’s result and final report for the area of Workplace Wellbeing states that the most important aspect for a re-entry strategy is the physical and mental wellbeing of an individual employee. Workplace wellness, initially a concept, may emerge as an industry with new products, practices, techniques, and strategies for companies to adopt and adjust for their respective spaces, building, and community

 

 

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Workplace design strategy for an employee-centric environment in the COVID-19 landscape

June 22, 2020

Workplace design strategy for an employee-centric environment in the COVID-19 landscape


As the ease of lockdown restrictions grant the gradual reopening of the economy, companies look towards redesigning their workplace to mitigate the further spread of the virus and prioritize the health and safety of their employees all the while following the government-mandated regulations.

Trends And Concepts (TAC) Principal Designer and VP of Design & Construction Management IDr. Charisse Gail Bantiling tackled how companies can strategically design their office for the return of the workforce in the current and post COVID-19 landscape. “In this discussion, given that we spend 90% of our day in the workplace, we want to understand what a healthier environment means and what human-centric designs do to benefit your business,” said Gail.

Gail shared her presentation and insights in Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Phils., Inc. (ANZCHAM) virtual event entitled “Designing for a Healthier Environment and What it means for your Business” and in European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) webinar entitled “The Office Comeback: Legal Considerations and Design Insights on Re-opening Workplaces” where she is joined by Atty. Eliseo Zuniga Jr. and Atty. Patrick Henry Salazar of Quisumbing Torres.

“We’re still acknowledging the fact that the physical workplace is something necessary to keep and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It is a place after all where we do our business agenda or social gatherings in general,” Gail expressed before delving into her topic and sharing the workplace strategies can implement.

The initial steps in reconfiguring the workplace are by creating a one-way entrance and exit system to enforce the physical distancing rule. Afterward, identify which areas have high and low traffic zones in order to optimize areas that need adjustment for capacity as well as finding which ones can be converted to an additional workspace or temporary rooms. Lastly, provide clear directive routes through the use of physical markers, it should be straightforward yet visually enticing for the user to examine and follow.

Once the initial steps have been accomplished, these strategies can be implemented in each part of your workplace beginning with the reception area.

For the reception area, ensure an enhanced entry and exit sequence, provide testing zones for temperature checks, take out unnecessary seats in consideration to physical distancing, and place sanitizing areas on visible spots.

Nearby the reception should be the isolation room in the case of an employee testing positive. The isolation room should be located close to the exit and must follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard protocol.

De-densify the workplace to accommodate physical distancing can be achieved by using the high and low traffic zones guideline which indicates the tables that are to be occupied and determines the capacity per wing. Ideally, you want to take out equipment and seats on the unoccupied spaces, otherwise, you can make use of markers as dividers and sneeze guards between workstations for protection.

Similarly, workplace mapping can help ensure dedicated seats, personal accountability, and clear workable rules of conduct per user through alternate seating arrangements with a minimum of 1.5-meter physical distancing.


Following the work area, you can introduce broader facilities or ancillary spaces with a much more relaxed setup and an abundant source of landscape and natural lighting. It can be reconfigured as an additional workplace, break room, or used to provide more individual spaces such as phone booths.

 

With the physical changes implemented within the workplace, facility management protocols are just as important as it goes hand in hand to promote safety and wellness in the office environment. “With intentional designs, operations, and policies, we can help occupants from becoming sick. Promoting practices that can keep occupants healthier,” said Gail

She extensively discussed facility management protocols on holistic hygiene measures, environmental parameters, educational training, and high technology facilities.
can help occupants from becoming sick. Promoting practices that can keep occupants healthier,” said Gail.

Holistic hygiene measures

  • Adequate and frequent cleaning, disinfecting and sanitation
  • Antimicrobial coating on frequently touched surfaces
  • Occupant and visitor hygiene
    • Sanitizing products on vantage points
    • Hygiene programs and protocols
    • Provision of personal sanitizing kits
  • Robust cleaning protocols with regular inspections, monitoring and maintenance activities

Environment Parameters

  • Assess sources of air pollution indoors
  • IAQ, water parameters, filtration mechanisms
  • Mold inspection, remediation, bio-fogging, nano-coated surfaces, non-porous and easy to clean material selection
  • UVC disinfection technologies for after office cleaning
  • Optimum temperature (as per ASHRAE 55) and relative humidity of 40-60% levels to improve indoor environmental conditions
  • Use of low-emitting and least hazardous materials

Educational Training

  • Programs to control workplace anxiety
  • Healthy work culture through resilient policies
  • Access to employees health needs
  • Access to healthy food selection
  • Require importance of personal and reusable cutleries

High Technology Facilities

  • Detection and contactless systems
  • Auto cleaning machines
  • Automated doors
  • Touch free sanitary facilities

Finally, Gail emphasized on employee-wellbeing, “As stakeholders, we have to consider the users – not only are we looking at the workplace in the lens of hygiene and sanitation, maybe we should try welcoming the idea of creating a space of quality, bringing emphasis to empathy and support, bringing in a lot of that data-driven design approach using intelligent and technology-based solutions, creating that symbiotic relationship between business continuity and employee-wellbeing.”

There are several considerations to take into account and practices to implement for the safety of all. Testing and probing will be needed to confirm the efficacy and practicality of these workplace strategies. So long as there are opportunities for change and adaptation, companies can move forward during this period in protecting and preparing the office for the workforce.

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