Happiness is our birthright,” says Rekha Shetty, managing director of consulting firm Farstar Distribution Network Ltd, in her book The Happiness Quotient, “and innovation at a competitive workplace may help you achieve that.” Shetty refers to innovation at every level, but this edited excerpt from the chapter “The Fifth Radiant Action for Nurturing the Workplace” throws light on how innovation in the physical design of a workplace can lift the mood of people who work there. Take the quiz that follows to know how happy your workplace allows you to be:
Innovation in Workspaces
The innovation tool, “Turn it upside down”, helped turn a major corporate hospital brand from a place of illness to a sanctuary of wellness. This hospital is a lesson for us all as it demonstrates most pertinently that the most important component of a place of healing is not the floor, not the walls, not the counters. These things are important to caregivers who are on their feet and vertical to the floor. But hospitals are built for patients—most of whom are horizontal, on their back, lying on beds, looking at the CEILING.
The Happiness Quotient: By Rekha Shetty, Westland, 217 pages, Rs 150.
One of the hospitals where special care has been lavished on the ceiling is the Singhania’s hospital in Kota. The ceilings are a blaze of colour. Collages are created out of broken marble chips. What must have started as an attempt to practise economy has resulted in a masterpiece to keep patients happy and amused watching the changing patterns on the ceiling like clouds in the sky!
Breaking boundaries and thinking outside the box can have interesting results.
Space is often treated like a closed box. The Japanese poets have always spoken of the skyscape, trees and landscape being part of the living space. Designs should celebrate the sky and trees that surround the space. Consider the concept of stress-free architecture. Old Indian village homes had a pot of water at the entrance to wash one’s feet and face. How would it be to walk through water as you enter a house? Or walk barefoot on a springy patch of grass and absorb the earth’s energy at lunchbreak in office? Or have a central space in skyscrapers where trees grow and birds sing and sunshine pours into the hearts of concrete jungles...
Modern life provides many challenges to the creators of living spaces. Those involved in the BPO (business process outsourcing) units stay awake, working all night. Their circadian rhythms are completely corrupted, and their sleep-wake cycles are in disarray. A variety of architectural features using light can be used to reduce the negative impact of this system of working.
What design shifts are required to safeguard young people from the impact of modern technology? What is the partnership required between the healing sciences, architecture and product designers?
YOUR WORKPLACE WELLNESS ASSESSMENT
(ANSWER YES OR NO)
1. Would it be personally profitable for me to spend more time reading? (YES OR NO)
2. Do I effectively balance time between family, social, academic and recreational activities? (YES OR NO)
3. Do I concentrate too hard on just getting the job done rather than on my whole career? (YES OR NO)
4. Do I see my bosses as role models? (YES OR NO)
5. Do I hope that by improving my knowledge I will have a job and a good life? (YES OR NO)
6. Are there some active steps I might take today to ensure a successful future? (YES OR NO)
7. Would talking to professionals in various fields help improve my job awareness? (YES OR NO)
8. Would this be a frightening thing to do? (YES OR NO)
9. Are there some channels, people or sources that could make this a pleasant experience? (YES OR NO)
10. Have I honestly assessed my potential for growth and participation in future jobs? (YES OR NO)
11. Do I travel more than a week every month? (YES OR NO)
12. Do I rest when I’m tired? (YES OR NO)
13. Have I learnt to say ‘No’ politely? (YES OR NO)
Good: more than 9 Yeses; Adequate: 5 or more Noes; Poor: less than five Noes.
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