The words “Wellness in the Workplace” were a concept quite contradictory for me. I felt that as an entrepreneur, I had to work late nights, cope with stress at any level, and do whatever it takes.

This was in part due to my surrounding always being full of people working this way, “hustling”. I remembered my late nights in high school and college writing papers and doing whatever it takes and I took this culture with me into the business world. Business always came first, until I realized my well being was an important factor at how effective I could be. I was simply run down – and noticed when healthy – I’m producing better quality work. And I wasn’t alone, I had a few colleagues that seemed to be well rested, had time for the gym, had time for travels and fun, and didn’t seem to be the same as the rest of the rats in the race – in fact many had stepped out of the rat race.

There was a shift of paradigm that was occurring where people were becoming more conscious of wellness. Whether it was the Wholefood Organic boom, yoga, retreats, less people smoking, there was a shift happening. This new paradigm has also been aided by a next generation of workspaces that cared for the health of their employees. They knew that a healthier and happier workforce was more productive, and studies supported this.

The rise in co-working spaces was a powerful part of this equation. They knew they had to deconstruct the traditional office – make it fun, make it communal, and foster a different culture. Having worked and designed co-working spaces – I found something incredible in the community that it fostered, the sharing, productivity everything was better – people were simply happier. The space were designed in beautiful ways – they were typically larger more open floor plans, air and light were prevalent, art was often incorporated, events and engaging community activities. This massive break of the paradigm of cubicle working was one of the biggest steps toward improving how and where we worked. It also catered to a new breed of nomadic entrepreneur that was tired of working at home or Starbucks – they wanted a place to work but detested offices.

Some specific measures taken included: spaces for yoga & stretching, classes/lectures, lots of access to water, natural light in the office and plants, more open space design, community activities, retreats, healthy food options, incorporation of art, and overall a culture that appreciated those in the office. There was also a rise in corporate retreats as of recent – team building, fun, nature, education, yoga – all of these fit into a great formula to give those in the office something remarkable. It also helps to build community in a tremendous way.

The care for community is an often overlooked aspect of workplace wellness. When people feel a part of a  team, a community they are motivated in an incredible way. When they understand what part they play in that whole, when they sense their purpose or place in the community / organization, they thrive. There’s nothing more empowering than living with a purpose, and knowing you matter. When we can share and utilize our skills towards the betterment of a greater whole, people feel at their best. And its important that they are acknowledged and appreciated for that. Creating an environment that fosters community and individual responsibility toward that community is critical in any work place.

It is also the responsibility of the individual to take care of their own wellness. The simplest aspects of wellness are often overlooked… Are you getting enough sleep, water, exercise, and are you sticking to a diet that makes you feel good. Its quite simple – the goal is to feel good – when you feel good you do good. Producing quality products is intrinsically dependent on the machine functioning well. Other activities that are simple to get into are meditation (whether though guided programs bought online – or just sitting in stillness). This is a mini vacation – a time for yourself away from the office, family, friends and in your own peace.

One way or another employees, entrepreneurs, business owners alike are realizing the importance of wellness in the work place. Where they work, how they work, when they work, who they work with, what they are working on, and why. All of these matter. If you are not happy with where you work, or the manner in which you work, or what your working on – CHANGE IT. For those working in an office – challenge the office owner to add features that can improve the wellness of those in the office. And if you are a business owner – time to catch up with the current. If you are not currently considering your space design, amenities, and extras like classes/lectures, retreats, and community health – time to start. There is a new culture being cultivated in today’s workplace – one focused on wellness – and there couldn’t be a better time to be cultivating this culture, the resources at our disposable are greater than ever. I challenge you to simply take note of the things listed in this article and see how you are working.

-Ed Zaydelman