How to do workplace wellness in a better way

FORA workspaces aren’t just flexible – they also encourage it with benefits such as scheduled yoga sessions and mindfulness by design, so members feel energised and able to achieve their best

Businesses have long known that a healthy worker is a happy worker. Since World War II, employers have been giving their staff the means to keep their bodies in shape, starting with an emphasis on avoiding workplace injuries, and growing to provide gym facilities and healthy food. In the 21st century, a need to look after both body and mind has emerged – mental health is at the top of everyone’s priorities. But it isn’t a quick fix. Businesses must take a holistic approach to make sure all the needs of their workers are met.
“We need to encourage people to understand that productivity does not increase by being shackled to a desk, but by prioritising work-life balance and mental health,” says Katrina Larkin, co-founder of flexible workspace FORA. She believes that wellness is about mind, body and soul – all must be nurtured for us to truly thrive.
Wellness begins with making employees feel valued and inspired. Giving employees perks such as snacks and drinks is a good treat, but to reward them for their service they need to feel like their employer has put a more considered effort into providing for them. This starts with the right workspace. A 2019 study from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands found that office design had a significant impact on the psychological satisfaction of employees.
“It’s all about having the right mix of desirable spaces that can support what people do during the working day,” says Felicity Rocke, head of design at FORA. The company chooses the buildings it will occupy based on what workers need: generous amenities, alternative spaces to support focused work, areas rich in natural light and external spaces.

To provide the perfect office, considerations must be made on the most granular level. Harsh overhead lighting can grind down an employee’s patience, but provide softer, adjustable lights, and it can instantly make them more comfortable. Toilets in office blocks have a bad reputation, but making sure they are beautifully designed, well stocked and attractively fragranced can make the experience all the more pleasant. It’s in these ways that FORA excels – every detail has been considered to maximise employee comfort in a place they may spend more time in over the course of a week than their own homes.
By choosing a progressive, flexible workspace provider, it takes the challenge of providing these things away from upper management, allowing them more time to concentrate on their core business’s productivity. Keith Grose, the office leader for Plaid, a startup working in FORA Folgate Street, says that he no longer has to sweat the small stuff: “It’s all taken care of, so you can really focus on getting your job done,” says Grose.
Once these external issues are fixed, you move to working on the internal. The World Health Organisation says that employers can promote mental health by providing staff with resources to help. For example, companies could have access to therapists and doctors, giving staff somewhere to go if they are struggling. FORA has partnered with services including Medi-Pod and Dr Julian, so residents can access help online through video sessions and over text. They also can take matters into their own hands by clearing their mind with a quick cycle on a rentable Brompton Bike, or can escape to a reading room for some quiet alone time.

One of the reasons why FORA is in a leading position in the flex office market is that they go above and beyond to provide wellness boosts. With all the stresses of 2020, FORA organised its second wellness festival in September, with 32 events on topics such as nutrition, DNA, sleep and racism in the wellness industry, and classes in meditation and yoga combined with circus skills. Guests included DJ Rob da Bank, health trainer Tally Rye, Grace Victory and Lorraine Russell.
FORA residents could choose whether to attend in person or online in order to take a break from work – it’s about giving the opportunity to be inspired throughout the working day by innovative speakers, rather than expecting maximum productivity when a worker doesn’t have time for themselves. All these talks continue to be available on Fora’s YouTube channel.
“Wellness is a leading component of the workplace evolution which FORA is helping to forge,” says Larkin. “We know that thriving businesses are built by thriving people.”
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