Next Monday is Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The weather’s cold and rainy, you’ve spent all your money on Christmas gifts and you’re still getting used to being back at work.
This is a time when many businesses are struggling to find and retain talent and people on the job are stressed out, with their physical and mental health paying the price. On top of this, new creative work that aims to address the complex problems facing organisations today requires risk-taking and experimentation, but it’s hard to work creatively when you’re feeling low and have high stress levels.
Zoe Humphries, Senior Workplace Consultant at Steelcase has identified five things that organisations and individuals can do to stay on top of Blue Monday and help relieve stress and anxiety at work:
- Choice and control: Organisations should provide workers with spaces to do quiet work, as well as collaborative spaces that can be modified by teams to encourage experimentation. According to Steelcase research this isn’t happening nearly enough, with 22% of UK workers strongly believing that their workspace doesn’t inspire creativity.
- Create spaces that support focus and minimise distractions help with concentration and create one-on-one connections: Organisations that empower their workers to take time out of their day to step away from their desk and work in these environments help reduce stress and increase productivity.
- Get outside: Exposure to nature releases endorphins that improve your mood and put you in a more creative state of mind. Even when it’s cold outside, leaving the office can provide inspiration and a well-earned break.
- Seek out social spaces that foster personal and professional connections: Working in spaces that are designed with their users in mind allows you to connect with colleagues intuitively and easily, whether they are in co-located or distributed teams.
- Weave nature into the workplace: The calming effects of fresh air, greenery and natural lighting have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, so find ways to embrace biophilic design – this could mean incorporating natural materials, like wood, into your workspace, or simply having a plant on your desk.