Work for many, amounts almost to a second home – with most of us spending most of our weekly waking hours there and up to a third of our life at work. It’s a place we return to day after day, month after month and ensuring it’s a positive and engaging space is more important than ever to empower employees and enable their most focused work. The introduction of ‘wellbeing’ to the workplace has driven a raft of changes, both in societal expectation of workplaces and in distinguishing cultural identification.

Workplace design is a great example of how wellbeing has developed on the corporate landscape. We’ve seen a few evolutions over the past 30 years – from boxed, boring cubicle based offices to open floorplans and more recently, the introduction of relaxation spaces – lounges, beanbags and ping pong tables. Companies are now undeniably focused on how the corporate environment can be a valuable business investment in terms of luring new employees, and retaining existing staff members.

Any corporate organisation, or small business worth their salt, will strive to do everything they can to create a happy, positive workspace. Employees need to be comfortable and able to relax in order to be their most productive and healthy. Surveys show (Forbes Workplace Wellness trend report) that an overwhelming majority (87%) of employees would like their employer to offer healthier workplace benefits and 93% of workers in the tech industry said they’d stay longer at a company that offers healthier workspace benefits. It’s challenging to be mindful and calm if the space you spend most of your waking day in is not comfortable both aesthetically and in culture. Toxic cultures have long been a reason for leaving an organisation and creating a positive workspace is a progressive journey for any organisation, large or small and isn’t achievable overnight. It requires not only robust policies but most critically involves a reframing of wellbeing across the organisation.

Exploring those organisations with a thriving, healthy culture, it’s clear to see that often significant resources are committed to wellbeing programs to make the workplace as attractive, and dare it be said, fun as possible. These resources are not just in workplace design, but significantly now are focused on empowering employees to be able to manage their own thoughts and feelings through supportive programs.  In order to be focused and productive at work, employees need to feel supported, able to manage their workload and able to successfully navigate the often complex corporate dynamics and challenges. A common workplace challenge is that when employees feel overwhelmed or overworked, their brains enter into a fight or flight mode rendering them unable to make focused, clear decisions. As their individual stress levels rise, so too do those of the rest of the team, often resulting in undesirable interactions between employees as they navigate their way around the perceived danger.

How many times has a negative interaction with a colleague, resulted in your behaviour changing negatively to another team member?

A culture in which employees act more mindfully – that is, they are present in their actions, thoughts and behaviour enabling them to be focused on the present moment, not the project they were working on yesterday, or tomorrow’s meeting helps to minimise those negative interactions. A mindful meeting with a team member is one in which you’re actively listening –  focused only on what your colleague is saying, leading to increased value with both parties feeling heard, supported and included. It makes sense that employees who feel valued and listened to, not only collaborate better but increase their own productivity and uplift those around them. The energy created from positive workplace interactions flows through teams, divisions and eventually becomes a normal way of functioning for the organisation – almost like a domino effect.

Mindfulness is every bit as important for small business – perhaps even more so, as negative engagements have higher stakes in terms of productivity and culture. Forward thinking organisations which prioritise wellness and a more conscious mindset, can significantly turn around their commercial trajectory but also the engagement and happiness of their team. Importantly, it’s so easy to incorporate into the daily routine of a positive workspace with tools, techniques and apps to support those even at the start of their journey. Pockets of time can be turned into wellness periods – lunchbreaks, commutes into work, waiting for a conference call to start – the list is endless. Your Job as a business owner or manager is to lead from the top down – by setting the tone that wellbeing matters and by proxy therefore, your team matter as individuals.

Whilst the methods to achieve a positive workspace can be broadly discussed, one thing’s for sure, engineering your culture to be one of mindfulness and positivity can only drive your organisation forward into tomorrow’s world.