In order to be effective, workplace wellness needs to be truly multi-faceted, human centred and community led. Nowadays it is not just about a yoga class here and a bowl of fruit there. Wellness should be stitched into every aspect of a business. From sustainability and the WELL qualities of the built environment, through authentic flexible working policies that work for all types of employees and community outreach programmes that allow a cross-pollination between the company and its surrounding community.
Over the last several decades, staff wellness has become vital to business success, with results ranging from improved retention rates, attraction of the best talent, reduced absenteeism through to improved employee health behaviours. As a rule of thumb, the more human centred these initiatives are, the more successful the results. Yet there are still some segments of the workforce whose needs continue to be misunderstood.
Working parents face unique challenges in achieving a positive work/life balance. Perhaps suffering more than their childless counterparts, a working parent’s life is a juggling act – blending work and life hours together to create a cycle that works both for their career and families. As such, your daily routine becomes dictated to by a small human, which doesn’t always fit with today’s working culture.
Initiatives such as flexible working, KIT (keeping in touch) days, shared parental leave and parent support programmes have certainly contributed to improvements in the landscape for working parents. However, there is still huge room for improvement in creating an environment that truly fosters wellness at work for parents. Furthermore, the guilt and separation anxiety felt by parents when returning to work has huge psychological impacts contributing to decrease in productivity and mental wellbeing among the parent workforce.
For freelance working parents, who tend to work from home or coffee shops, the above problems can be further aggravated – with loneliness, isolation and lack of socialisation further contributing to mental health issues. All of the above has stimulated people like my business partner Charlie Rosier and I to create spaces that really consider the community in question and put parents at the heart of what we do, responding to what we consider to be the biggest hurdle to returning to work – inflexible costly childcare.
Born of the passion to support families and help bridge the gap between work and life, hybrid spaces like Cuckooz Nest are becoming more commonplace. The lack of flexibility and affordability of childcare is one of the biggest barriers to re-entering the workforce. Will facilities like this become commonplace within large office developments? We think so! The requirements of the occupier of the future have evolved and being able to service employees’ wellness through more than just a wellbeing programme now needs to become a focus for all those involved in developing these built environments.
The founder of hybrid space Cuckooz Nest tells us how venues with flexible childcare on the premises are improving the wellbeing of working parents