I had the pleasure of attending the Thames Valley Chamber Of Commerce’s Oxford Business Breakfast this morning at the De Vere Oxford Thames Hotel. Firstly, I want to say what a beautiful venue. A touch of snow on their idyllic gardens and a solid full English breakfast proved a very good antidote to the otherwise cold and dreary morning. I signed up to this breakfast because it was focused on health and wellbeing in the workplace. As the MD of a co-working space it seemed pretty relevant to me.
Wellbeing in the workplace
First up was Darren Aston, MD at Aston & James, a company focused on wellbeing in the workplace. Darren started out by sharing with us some disturbing statistics. The 10M+ office workers in the UK spend more than 7 hours per day sitting at their desk. It’s therefore no surprise that 1/3 of employees have had workplace related illnesses and more than ½ of employees admit to having bad posture. Worse still are some facts that are hard to ignore. For example, prolonged sitting results in a 29% increased risk of early death, a 50% increased risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, and a 40% increase risk of obesity. If the downsides weren’t enough to convince us to change, then the upsides might be. Being comfortable and happy in a workplace is shown to significantly improve productivity. All round a set of good reasons to make some changes in the workplace. At The Wheelhouse we will be looking to help our members to mitigate these risks, but I’m sure Darren and his team would be happy to take a call if you need further information or help to make your workplace more comfortable for your employees.
Focusing on better mental health in 5 simple steps
Next up was Kate Sutton from Oxfordshire Mind, a charity with a mission to make sure anyone with a mental health problem has somewhere to turn for advice and support. Kate started out by reminding us all that we all have mental health – in the same way that we all have physical health, and that just like our physical health, unless we keep on it, we can have problems. One in four people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition within one year, and one in five people have taken time off with stress. Very good reasons to pay attention to the mental health and wellbeing in our workplace. Kate shared with us five simple steps that are known to improve mental health and wellbeing. 1) Connect – with people, around your, friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. I was encouraged by this first step as it is 100% in line with the mission of The Wheelhouse – to provide a friendly environment where you and your business can flourish – low on cost and big on community. 2) Be Active – a great connection to Darren’s presentation. Did you know that physical activity is proven to be one of the best treatments for mild depression? 3) Take notice – we need to be sure we take notice of our environment and of the people around us, including given frequent positive feedback. 4) Keep learning – whether in the workplace or at home, continuing to get involved in new activities and learning new skills can be very beneficial. 5) Give – from something as simple as a smile, to volunteering and/or giving to community organisations will be very personally rewarding.
Encouraging healthy eating
Finally Helen Money from Helen Money Nutrition talked to us about the importance of what we eat. Helen reminded us all of an accepted fact – what our employees eat affects their productivity. While not all of our employees (or members in the case of The Wheelhouse) will enjoy it, Helen encouraged us to consider removing snacks that are high in added sugar and consider healthy snacks for our employees like fruit, nuts, health bars and soup. She also encouraged us to consider leveraging education resources such as those provided by a number of charities and the Oxfordshire Workplace Wellbeing Network or of course from independent providers such as Helen Money Nutrition. Finally, Helen encouraged us to consider the equipment we provide in our offices to support healthy nutrition – ranging from making sure that we have refrigerators with enough space for people to store their healthy food to providing chopping boards, knives and even blenders to facilitate healthy snacks such as fruit smoothies.
All up a very interesting set of presentations from three very interesting and helpful organisatons. We at The Wheelhouse will be doing our best to take on board this advice to ensure that we have a healthy, active work environment to maximize the wellbeing and productivity of our members.