Whether you’re currently work from home or remain in an office-type environment, consider this: Are you happy at work?
Panelists discussed how the workplace is evolving, especially during a global pandemic, and how happiness plays a role in the built environment during the recent session “Happiness by Design and the Evolving Workplace” at the 2020 Virtual BOMA International Conference & Expo.
It’s well-known that mental health plays a factor in a person’s overall wellbeing. Research by the World Economic Forum shows that $6 trillion in global costs will be driven by mental health by 2030. This shows the need for increased awareness and tactics to improve mental health, which panelists noted can start in the workplace.
Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, international design consultancy CallisonRTKL, happiness culture coach|sulting company Delivering Happiness (DH) and Egyptian community developer Mountain View came together to research whether happiness drives success and to find a way to measure happiness in the built environment. As a result, the collaborating teams developed the Happiness Ecosystem Index, which helps break down the components, or “truths,” of happiness and how each can be supported. The five truths of happiness in the index include:
Panelist Jodi Williams, associate vice president for CallisonRTKL, explained how each truth contains 20 subcategories, or key details, that support that truth, and each subcategory has 200 actionable design ideas that help support and create happiness in the workplace.
“The actionable design ideas are a combination of things that support people, pathways and places, the idea being that all of these can create happiness in the built environment,” she noted.
DMG headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, was the first building designed and executed utilizing this “Happiness by Design” methodology. Ahmed Elmoursy, Innovation Development Director for Mountain View, noted how the design takes into consideration maintaining its employees’ heart, body, mind and soul at all times.
“When it comes to Happiness by Design, the aim is to create happier and better spaces,” he said. “You can build the most sophisticated place in the world… but does it make you happy? The simple things, like being around people, make you happy.”
Echoing off this statement, panelist Ron Mandel, senior COACH|SULTANT for Delivering Happiness, stressed the importance and sense of connection between people, especially when they start coming back to the office post-pandemic. He suggests companies take simple, easy steps to improving employees’ happiness, such as using “connection cards,” to encourage people to share things about themselves. And, rather than just create new and improved meeting spaces within the workplace, actually utilize these spaces and find ways to further connect within them.
Steps like this can be challenging to implement at a time when so many are working from home as a result of COVID-19, but panelist Katie Sprague, senior vice president for CallisonRTKL, says they will likely be considered and utilized when looking at the future of the workplace.
“[Happiness] used to not be a major concern,” she noted during the session. “As we are beginning to get a glimpse to return what the office looks like...I think now what the office market may be concerned about is why would people want to come back to work at all? It doesn’t sound enticing, it sounds challenging. So, I think happiness will become part of a well-rounded strategy for what the office market is doing in the future. The idea that we can work anywhere, anytime and any way we choose will now be part of the work culture going forward.”