Revealed: The hidden link between activity based working and wellness

September 2017

Made the link between Activity Based Working (ABW) and wellness yet?

It’s definitely there.

Along with the well-documented benefits ABW promises such as improving collaboration, flexibility and space efficiency, employee wellness is right up there.

ABW – where spaces are tailored to work tasks rather than individuals, and employees don’t ‘own’ their desk, instead they move between different task spaces – when executed well, has the ability to foster employee wellness.

Why? Because ABW encourages movement, which is essential for physical health. And there are potential mental health and social benefits as well.

So let’s go through the three main benefits ABW offers when it comes to wellness.

 

ABW promotes physical health

 

An ABW layout encourages you to walk from place to place to utilise the different spaces throughout the day. For part of the day, you may choose a quiet space, then perhaps move to a meeting space to meet with colleagues, then move through to work in a project space. You’re not just sitting at your desk all day. The distributed arrangement of the ABW workspace ensures at least some walking.

Many ABW workspaces also incorporate active design elements — such as visible and appealing stairwells, furniture that encourages movement (sit-stand desks) and incorporating well-planned walking routes.

And it’s no secret that movement, such as walking, is good for physical health. Movement facilitates blood flow and the circulation of nutrients around the body — our bodies are designed to keep moving.

 

ABW can foster mental and social health

 

Another common feature of modern ABW spaces is incorporating plants, living walls, natural light and fresh air into the design. Known as ‘biophilic design’, which focuses on facilitating humankind’s innate biological connection with nature, these ‘greener’ spaces can reduce stress, enhance creativity and clarity of thought, all whilst improving well-being overall.

In an ABW environment, you get to choose to work where it suits you best, depending on your task and mood. While you yourself may need peace and quiet to concentrate on your work and find busy spaces mentally exhausting, someone else may find the background noise and activity stimulating and conducive to getting their work done. The point is, you get to choose what suits you best, and you can change at any time.

Long story short, the freedom to control your environment is linked to positive feelings of agency and control. And these feelings are crucial for mental health.

ABW also fosters social health through improving the collaboration within an organisation. The fact that people move around more often naturally increases exposure and interactions among individuals and groups. Increasing interactions leads to new relationships and connections, a cross-pollination of ideas and ultimately better collaboration. And collaboration has long been linked to innovation, which is paired with business success.

Additionally, the increased familiarity and collaboration also heightens employees’ sense of bonding, and of communal and social responsibility within the workplace, both of which bolster emotional health.

 

Working well

 

Of course, the physical environment is only one factor contributing to workplace wellness. Today, corporate wellness programs are big business — worth $40 billion worldwide according to the Global Wellness Institute. These programs include health promotion activities and organisation-wide policy designed to support healthy behaviours and improve health outcomes at work.

But the link between ABW and wellness is definitely there. At the very least, ABW gets people to move more often. To get up out of their chair, to stretch their legs, to get their blood pumping. And by setting up the conditions that enable people to work in ways that suit them and to work collaboratively with others, it’s helping people to feel better about work and to be more productive.

And that’s got to be good for business.

 


At Crestline Furniture Systems, we’re continually evolving our product offering to ensure it encompasses the latest developments in workplace thinking. Our mission is to help create vibrant and effective workspaces where people love to work. Want to find out more? Give us a call on 09 257 5015 or email info@crestline.co.nz

 

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