Reading time: 2 Minutes
With anxiety and depression costing $1tn a year in lost productivity, it’s time to think of a better way of working
Flexspace can help employees lead happier, more productive working lives
We’ve all heard the term “burnout” and we all know the quick fixes we can apply to cope with it. Or do we? Time was when popular thought would have you believe that burnout could be remedied by a quick yoga class or mindfulness session, before it was back to the office grind only to repeat the same cycle all over again. Yet a more enlightened approach has begun to emerge, in which behavioural psychologists and workplace gurus are questioning the root causes of burnout – and what can be done about them.
First, the facts. An article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that “workplace stress” accounts for $190bn in US healthcare spending a year – not to mention 120,000 deaths. A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), which now officially recognises burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), found that anxiety and depression costs the global workforce a staggering $1tn in lost productivity every year. And the American Psychological Association (APA) discovered that poor employee wellbeing leads to “higher turnover, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs”.
So, what can the business community do to combat the problem? A good start is to recognise that it doesn’t lie with the employee but with the working conditions imposed on the employee. It’s the coalmine, not the canary. A long commute to a dilapidated office, in which equipment is poorly maintained and the prospects for a relaxing cup of coffee in a pleasant environment are restricted to a strip-lit kitchen with no windows, is unlikely to help.
This is where coworking spaces can come in. Providing dynamic office spaces that serve to inspire employees can help alleviate burnout by creating environments that enable work to be done in comfort and to the best of an employee’s ability. Brands like Regus provide shared offices that have been designed to aid rather than hinder productivity, with ergonomically sound furniture; a range of areas (from meeting room to quiet zone) to choose from, depending on the task at hand; and plenty of natural light to complement circadian rhythms. With maintenance and repairs taken care of, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of companies – big and small – are making the switch to flexspace.
Another burnout-busting advantage associated with shared offices is location. A coworking spaces-provider on the scale of Regus-owner IWG – it’s the world’s largest – means that there are plenty of options. So if an employee faced with a long commute can cut their travel time by working closer to home, in a bright and welcoming environment that makes them more productive in the process, it seems like this is a way of working that’s likely here to stay.