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What would you choose—to scroll through your friend’s social media pictures of the beach or to feel the sand under your feet; read a romance novel or to experience the intensity of first love; watch a cooking show or sit in a café in Italy, freshly made pasta on your fork?

Real experiences are so powerful. They invite emotion and stimulate thought. Nothing can compare to taking in the surrounds of an experience; the unique smells—someone’s perfume, freshly cooked food—and sounds—like music—that can bring you right back to a moment in time.

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It has long been established that when we experience more positive emotions than negative ones, we are more likely to feel creative, motivated and productive. For this reason, many organisations have started to ask how they can unlock these feelings in their employees through wellbeing strategies and culture change.

This much is nothing new. Many of the discussions that took place among delegates, facilitators and speakers at the Good Day At Work Conversation 2015 focused on how employers can foster a culture that is conducive to positive emotions. Perhaps most notably was Executive Chairman at global communications firm, Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts’ keynote speech on The Power Of Love.

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Inspiring offices

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On the BBC website today they are running a piece about the influence of buildings on the wellbeing of their users.  More specifically, that buildings can look great from the outside but actually be very detrimental for the people inside. A similar sentiment was expressed in a recent episode of The Secret Life of Buildings, which focused on the effects of work environments on employees.  The case for the potential for workplace design to impact on happiness and productivity was compelling, and the Interpolis office in Tilburg was incredible!  The psychology behind this was interesting too, and neatly demonstrated some of the key principles of wellbeing.  For example, control over the way we work is one of the key drivers for employee wellbeing, and the programme demonstrated how this also extends to our control of the workplace environment.  Deloitte carried out an experiment with plants, with some offices having plants chosen for them, and another allowing the staff to select their own.  As predicted, the positive impact proved greater for the latter group.

Unfortunately lots of UK offices are a long way from being innovative and inspiring.  Small steps (like the plants) can make some difference, but fundamental change is more difficult.  Regrettably even the minor improvements tend to be placed on the ‘nice to have’ list, and are rapidly dropped if budgets come are under scrutiny.  And this is a problem we have with psychological wellbeing too.  Despite empirical evidence, some people are still very dismissive of its impact.  In The Secret Life of Buildings they looked to other countries for inspiration and examples of best practice, to engage the unbelievers on an emotional level.  I’m not suggesting we all travel quite that far – but even getting stakeholders to visit a team functioning well compared to one that’s struggling could be more influential than a whole raft of data.

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Cary CooperGood Day at Work™

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

Cary CooperCary on Twitter

Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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