Wellbeing conference points way to finding inner peace

How can we develop more positive and inclusive workplaces in the new era? Speakers at WORKTECH’s latest Wellbeing conference in London offered some mind-expanding ideas

Employee wellbeing is high on the business agenda as companies revive their office operations and plan support for a hybrid workforce. So, WORKTECH’s annual Wellbeing conference, back in a face-to-face format for the first time since the pandemic, was well timed in  showcasing new ideas around building positive, healthy workspaces for all.

Held in the Lutron Experience Centre in London on 20 September 2022, the event featured a range of speakers offering an insight into how companies can create more effective wellbeing policies, build offices that are better for employee health, and provide an inclusive and welcoming working environment.

Finding joy

Author and sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan set the tone of the conference with her discussion around finding psychological safety and the importance of making simple, effective choices around your wellbeing in order to not just survive but thrive in the workplace.

Not just offering theoretical advice, Dr Ramlakhan took the audience through a morning of someone prioritising their wellbeing, offering practical advice on how to relax, reset and find a place of peace and inner calm. Her philosophy on life, as well as her wealth of scientific research, provided a clear standpoint to address the working world with the belief that all people have the power to transform their mental wellbeing and live joyfully.

Caitlin Rozario, co-founder of interlude, an app designed around encouraging workers to take more breaks and therefore boost their wellbeing and productivity, also discussed the topic of psychological safety.

‘Are regular breaks the key to a successful work environment?’

Not only did she encourage us all to schedule more time in our day for taking breaks from work, but  she also highlighted how this small change can lead to an increase in energy, motivation and even have positive financial consequences for your company. Are regular breaks the key to a successful work environment? According to Rozario they are; both her research and personal experiences backed up a potentially transformative hypothesis.

Finding inclusivity

One of the most distressing experiences in the workplace is the experience of exclusion. Feeling unwanted, ignored and under-appreciated in the workplace can be extremely damaging to individual  wellbeing, but unfortunately it is not an uncommon experience. Lucile Kamar, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at ITN London. discussed the impact of exclusion and how companies and individuals can benefit from increasing their efforts in the field of diversity and inclusion.

Using the VUCA model, she discussed how we can transform ‘Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity’ into ‘Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility’ and thereby build the foundations of a more healthy and inclusive workspace.

Kamar notes that the part of our brain that experiences social exclusion is the same part that registers physical pain. Inclusion is a wellbeing issue that should be treated with the same seriousness as a physical illness and providing equality in terms access to wellbeing initiatives is a crucial step for employers.

Finding better buildings

But how does the built environment affect our wellbeing? And what kinds of office spaces benefit our health?

Dr Matthew Marson, founder of Smart Buildings Bootcamp, tackled this thorny issue in his discussion about the future of the built environment. He warned against making quick changes to a building without thinking through how this could affect all the building’s occupants.

Marson cited facial recognition software that struggles to identify non-white faces and wayfinding tools that promote taking the stairs instead of lifts as examples of technology that has the potential to leave behind certain communities and individuals, decreasing their sense of wellbeing in doing so.

‘Not all changes to office space are positive and companies must think through the impact…’

Not all changes to office space are positive and companies must think through the potential impact of proposed alterations from all perspectives in order to ensure that their workplace stays inclusive, as technology doesn’t always have the answers.

However, when leveraged correctly, technology can help us when it comes to solving societal issues, observed Marson, referencing its effect on climate change and reducing climate inequalities. Technology can also be used to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive, perhaps for those with disabilities who are unable to easily make the commute into the office, for example.

Clever technology requires deep reflection and for employers to take the time to listen and absorb their employees needs, but when done correctly it can be transformative and boost employee wellbeing.

Hear and learn more from the speakers at WORKTECH Wellbeing 2022 here.

Echo Callaghan is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer with WORKTECH Academy. She holds degrees from the University of York and Trinity College Dublin.
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