Journalist and content editor
It’s easy to assume that diligently beavering away at our desks will make us more productive. This assumption has led to a drastic rise in presenteeism, as revealed by a 2018 CIPD study. But presenteeism is costing the UK twice as much as absenteeism. In fact, research has shown, time and again, that taking time to rest and rejuvenate can help us work better.
It comes as no surprise that our physical and mental wellbeing impact our work life. A 2017 report—Wellness Together—showed that our office space can have an effect on our output. It identified a number of key factors, including lighting and air quality, and found that something as simple as a sit-stand desk can increase profits by 37%. It established a clear correlation between productivity and how comfortable our workplaces are.
It’s with this in mind that many of London’s coworking spaces are focusing their efforts on wellbeing. From biophilia and mindfulness to yoga and therapy sessions, these shared workspaces are offering more than just a desk.
A 2018 Gallup study found that 23% of employees surveyed reported experiencing a burnout. Now, with the World Health Organisation officially recognising burnout as a disease, we can no longer ignore the impact of our professional lives on our mental health.
If you’re keen to understand your own mental health in more detail, Stillpoint Spaces London might be the coworking space for you. Stillpoint started out as an international hub for psychology practitioners, but its East London venue combines this with a coworking space for those in other professions who’d like to use psychological thinking in their work. You don’t need to be an expert in the subject at all, just interested in learning more, being inspired and working in a “psychologically intentional environment”.
Members can benefit from mind-expanding talks, as well as an extensive library of psychology books. For more mental stimulation, there are the Mindful Writing Sessions where members can unplug from phones and WiFi to do some mindfulness exercises and quiet writing.
Where is it? 23 Clerkenwell Close, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0AA
How much will it cost? Membership starts at £35 per month for those wanting occasional access.
Stillpoint Spaces - photo by Stillpoint Spaces
Working in a pleasant physical environment can lead to higher rates of productivity. For example, bright lighting is distracting for employees, while soft lights are more conducive to productivity. Moving beyond sight, our sense of smell also plays a key role in the office. According to Rachel S. Herz, a psychology researcher at Brown university, smells have a direct impact on our emotions, which in turn affect the way we work.
Keeping in mind the impact of our office surroundings on our work, Tani Adir co-founded Uncommon. She designed all four Uncommon coworking spaces in London to be optimal for our senses. For example, bespoke scents in each room provide a feeling of calm and boost performance. Another important element of Uncommon coworking spaces is biophilia. According to a 2015 study—The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace—employees with desks next to windows overlooking green spaces reported lower levels of stress. This use of plants and green accents in designing workplaces has proven to increase work performance.
On top of this, Uncommon offers regular exercise classes, workshops and talks. Members are offered tips on improving their desk posture as well as diet advice from the in-house nutritionist.
Where is it? Liverpool Street, Islington, Borough and Fulham.
How much will it cost? Hot desks from £250 per month and dedicated desks from £350 a month.
Uncommon - photo by Uncommon
The building you’re working in can have a huge impact on your health. In fact, some work spaces are believed to be so bad for you that employees can experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, itchy skin, fatigue and personality changes. Health professionals call it sick building syndrome, and it’s becoming a very real occupational hazard.
Not so at One Heddon Street. Barr Gazetas, the architect and interior design team behind these flexible offices in a beautiful Grade II-listed building had wellbeing at the top of their list. They took it so seriously that the space has been certified by the WELL system, which measures how a building impacts the health and wellness of those who occupy it.
Inside, you’ll find adjustable sit-stand desks, which not only promote good posture but make you more productive and happy, according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal. There are plenty of plants for extra oxygen that tap into the principles of biophilia, which asserts that humans have a need to connect with nature. Natural light is abundant and there’s access to filtered water in every room. You’ll even benefit from enhanced acoustic and thermal features, which ensure each space has just the right noise levels and is the perfect temperature.
Where is it? One Heddon St, Regent Street. W1B 4BD
How much will it cost? Shared desks from Monday to Friday start at £350 per month, while 24/7 membership with your own desk is from £750 a month.
One Heddon Street- Photo by One Heddon Street
According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory, the hierarchy of needs, humans have five basic categories of needs that make us happy. Our basic physiological requirements are at the bottom, followed by safety and social belonging. At the top of the hierarchy are self-esteem and self-actualisation.
Maslow’s Mortimer House is a coworking space that keeps this hierarchy in mind for optimal wellbeing. Physiological needs are satisfied with delicious food available in the restaurant, while cosy rooms, such as the living room, dining room and conservatory, create a safe, home-away-from-home ambience. The space is arranged to encourage members to interact and fulfil their need for social belonging, while the needs at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy are met with talks on professional growth, confidence and creativity.
Where is it? 37–41 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3JH.
How much will it cost? Full-time membership starts at £500 per month, but there’s a flexible membership of eight days per month at £250.
Maslow’s Mortiner House - Photo by Maslow’s Mortimer House
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Journalist and content editor