M Moser Associates, Remote working, Mental health, Productivity, Home office, Wellness in Design

Enable your teams to create the optimal work environment – wherever they are

M Moser Associates takes its learnings from office design to explore the key provisions for success in the remote workplace

There’s never been a more critical time to address our mental, physical, spiritual and financial health. Can we harness the opportunity embedded in widespread global disruption to establish a new workplace paradigm founded in wellness and community?


Culture and community
“Up-skilling” people on interesting topics as well as on how to work in a different environment and manage team relationships can help to empower creative spirits and community identity. This is an amazing time to grow leadership at all levels. Well-timed opportunities to brainstorm, share and celebrate work can make an immeasurable difference. Allocating time in meetings to recognise successes at all scales. Asking each team member to lead and share with respect to professional and life accomplishments can build trust, confidence, connectivity and support in the development of close connections that will serve now and into the future. 

Helping team members define time and space boundaries to maintain their own mental wellbeing is a gift for all toward effective, healthy, high performance habits.

The ultimate ROI - dedicating time now to help people grow capabilities, confidence, and understand their own resilience within the holistic support of their organisations. This is the predictive outcome of present and future success and efficiency for both individuals and their businesses.

Selecting the right space
Empowering people to discover aspects that create comfort and enhance mood and performance in their own homes can have a distinct impact on health, wellbeing and productivity. This may include ergonomic furniture, lighting, plants, acoustics, access to daylight, water and nourishment. DIY solutions such as; stacking books for variable laptop height-adjustment, selecting areas with absorptive surroundings or proximity to windows, task lights and plants to enhance comfort, performance and mood, can provide valuable versatility.

To support mental diversity, it’s important to identify a variety of settings for different types of work. Empowering people to create a minimum of three high-performance work environments - no matter the size of their space - has proven to support a range of benefits. These include; boosting motivation through freedom of choice, creating mood-enhancing playfulness, stimulating the brain through micro-movements and providing headspace for new ways of thinking.

Sharing the workspace
In India, space can often be a constraint when working from home. People may be refined to smaller shared areas with family members, roommates or children.

Leadership might encourage their teams to start the working day early to complete “deep work” without distractions, or accommodate flexible working hours to suit individual needs.
When juggling work and the care of small children, it’s important to remember that we are taking over their play zone. Help them to understand the reason behind the change, communicate new rules and schedule time for them during the day. Displaying a traffic light colour system in front of your “office” door can help children to understand when you are busy.

Passion and drive
Cultivating a motivated mindset is vital to employee happiness and performance. This can be encouraged through regular communication with teams and team leaders, and by receiving recognition and positive feedback. By creating time for individuals to clarify priorities and bring to life inner passions, home working can enable greater autonomy and more opportunity for focused, “deep work”.

Physical health
Dedicating part of your day to practicing breathing and movement through activities such as yoga, running or rebounding, can help oxygenate the brain and keep the lymphatic system moving.  Even just a few minutes gently bouncing on the rebounder, doing a series of squats and/or taking a few deep, held and slowly-released breaths, can serve to stimulate the immune system and creative problem-solving simultaneously.

Mental wellness
Anxiety stimulates adrenals and limits our body’s immune-building functions, which can make us more susceptible to both physical and mental challenges. Practicing mindfulness, limiting news and panic accelerators, and setting good habits for sleep can help alleviate this. Giving employees the freedom to manage their own time and deadlines can reduce perceptions of success being determined solely by accessibility.

Connection to others enhances mental wellness and supports resilience by providing community, a sharing/learning  platform or sounding board. By bringing in new forms of connectivity to the daily routine - calling loved ones, empowering team members, up-skilling, undertaking acts of kindness - we can enable mental growth, positivity and sense of purpose.


A paradigm shift
The current COVID-19 response is pushing the boundaries of the workplace as we know it and accelerating its evolution.  As architects, we see the challenges this propelled change poses as unique opportunities to innovate and redefine best practices towards a sustainable, healthy future.  In our own office, living labs and current remote locations, we are testing new HVAC design and operation protocols, flexibility optimisation and data-driven implementations. Putting people at the core of the work environment, we will continue to share tools and examples to help assess health, wellness and high performance throughout life and work.


Contributors
- Dr Christine Bruckner, director of Sustainability and Wellness, M Moser Associates, Hong Kong
- Beverly Mathias, workplace strategist, M Moser Associates, Mumbai
- Reema Bhandari, associate - Strategic Workplace Planning, M Moser Associates, Bengaluru

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