Great work environments = more positive cultures

For most people, work today occupies a substantial part of our lives. The average working week stands at between 55–65 hours in the private sector in London. This equates to between 11 and 12 hour working days. It is accepted that this is viewed to be extreme and generally unhealthy but there are many that pride themselves on the long hours they work.

Commuting to the capital brings the average work day up to 13–14 hours; this is from the moment they leave home to the moment they return. Add in the average six hours sleep per night and that leaves just 5–6 hours per day for anything bar work, travel and sleep.

The average amount of hours being worked on weekends by London executives is today standing at between 4–5 hours.

In the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, the hours are less intense and people spend nearly nine hours on work-related activities during their day. Other studies, such as a 2014 survey by Gallup, suggest that the average number was actually closer to forty- seven hours per week.

With so much time spent on work, it goes without saying that a healthy and positive work environment is vital to health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, maintaining a healthy work environment requires attention to equipment and workstation design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), task design, psychological factors, such as personal interactions, work pace and job control, as well as chemical and environmental exposures.

On this basis, food service has never had a more important role to play within businesses but it is not just about food but about design and environment.

So what does this mean?

  • The restaurants outlets within companies need more today than the traditional, old fashioned designs. They need to not just engage the customer but really make a difference in their lives. People take great pride in food service as a benefit – it has real, genuine importance and needs real thought and care. Q Food needs to be a balance between indulgence and nutrition. Food is becoming a science and caterers need to work on their food plans with greater depth than in previous eras.
  • Feng Shui, a Chinese philosophy and art that focuses on the special arrangement of buildings and objects, can help promote a harmonious workplace. Feng Shui was developed over 3,000 years ago and is excellent for balancing the energy in any work environment. According to research performed by NASA, plants are powerful enough to remove benzene, TCE, and formaldehyde from the workspace.
  • Consider Lighting Ergonomics. Proper lighting is essential for a healthy work environment
  • Help employees be comfortable. The human body is not designed to spend eight hours a day sitting but, unfortunately, for many people, that’s exactly what happens at work. If you really want to get down to the brass tacks, the truth is that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest public health threats of our time. Sitting for extended periods can lead to muscle loss, weight gain, hypertension, osteoporosis, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, depression, back pain, and a host of other maladies. Who needs that? How can we design spaces in new and different ways to create change? And activity?
  • Promote workplace wellness, create an environment where wellness is encouraged and facilitated. Can we promote healthy eating habits and establish wellness programs ranging from fitness days to providing reimbursements for gym memberships. The healthier employees are, the fewer sick days they will have, and the more energy they will have to produce. Workplace wellness benefits the bottom line just as much as it benefits employees.

Food Service can sit at the heart of creating change to create stronger and more positive work environments. Caterers can be the centre of that change. The challenge is there and it is now time to promote great new solutions.