Safety Goes Beyond the Body: Designing a workplace that's safe for the mind.
Given our current circumstances, countless organizations have been integrating tools, products and practices to increase physical safety in the workplace. Adaptive tools such as barrier systems, dividers, panels, floor markers, and others have become a staple for organizations choosing to continue in-office work hours. These solutions are essential as they allow businesses to continue functioning during the pandemic while keeping employees as safe as possible. At Be. we have implemented several of these solutions to ensure the safety of our team members, partners and clients.
While these resources are extremely vital, there is a whole other component to workplace safety that can be easily neglected during these times of uncertainty. Having a sense of safety is one of our most basic human needs. Safety in the workplace goes beyond implementing solutions to keep the body safe, it is also about integrating design elements that send a safe signal to the brain. Science now shows that certain qualities in the material world have direct influence on levels of peace, calmness and wellbeing. This means that through studying data, we can design spaces that encourage employees to feel safe coming into work. Here are a few introductory pointers to get you started:
Integrate Nature – Nature brings the essence of peace and calm. Studies show that viewing natural scenery brings more feelings of relaxation and lowers anxieties. Whether it's bringing in plants, organic materials or artwork featuring natural scenery, all will help create a feeling of safety for those in your office.
More Curves, less sharp angles – One important characteristic of nature is that it rarely ever contains sharp angles. Keeping lines more curvy and soft actually reminds us of nature which helps to contribute to a sense of peace. Mindfully selecting furniture pieces without straight edges and pointed curves can bring a more natural feel to your workplace.
Make it feel like home – Homes represent a safe space for us to find a sense of peace and calm at the end of the day. Integrating residential-style elements into the workplace can help remind employees that they are safe by signalling a sense of familiarity.
(Data sourced from: Saving The Workplace By Design: The Hidden Psychology of Safe Space by WorkDesign Magazine https://rb.gy/xtqjr8)
Beyond design elements, it is even more important that your employees feel secure in the belief that their safety matters and that their needs will be heard. Creating a secure workplace environment during this time necessitates letting your team members know that their experience and their needs matter. While it may not be possible to accommodate every need, being an attentive listener can already help bring a sense of safety during these uncertain times.