Quickfire Q&A with Matt Morley
With the return to the office fast approaching and a cause of consternation and anxiety for many people, Yinshi has teamed up with The Yoga Agency to bring you what promises to be a hugely valuable webinar on the ‘The Future of Workplace Wellbeing.’
Our panelists – Renée Elliott (founder of Planet Organic), Matt Morley (founder of Biofit and Biofilico) and Leigh Chapman (founder of Yinshi) – will be offering HR practitioners and Office Managers actionable ideas, energy and enthusiasm for how their businesses can adapt to the big changes that are coming, and to help put their employees’ mental health at the top of the agenda.
Never has there been a more golden chance to look to the future and collectively improve workplace wellness.
To give us a flavour of what to expect at the webinar, Matt Morley kindly took the time to answer some quickfire questions around his perspectives on workplace wellbeing.
To say we are even more excited now is an understatement.
You can read his fascinating answers below.
But first, here is the link to sign up.
The webinar is FREE and it’s on April 29th, 1300-1400.
Please share with anyone that you think can make a difference on this vital topic.
Matt, can you describe what you do in regards to workplace wellness in a sentence?
It took me a long time to get there but basically I’m about creating green and healthy spaces, so I combine design and operational strategies to help make offices that are geared for wellbeing and sustainability.
What will you be discussing at the upcoming Future of Workplace Wellbeing seminar?
It’s already shaping up to be a really promising line-up and I’m delighted to be contributing my thoughts to the panel. I’ll likely focus on tangible improvements that can be made to the work environment itself, in order to offer practical inspiration to HR teams, Brand Managers and Office Managers concerned about the now imminent return to work.
One thing’s for sure, there has never been a more pertinent time to make office upgrades of this kind, employees are quite frankly looking for signs of understanding from their employers now that we have all grasped the risks associated with spending so much time in close contact with colleagues.
The benefits still far outweigh the risks in my view but every office needs to adapt to the new reality. Debate about how to create a safe and healthy workplace is here to stay.
Which workplace wellbeing trend gets you the most excited at the moment?
I’ve been talking about biophilia and biophilic design for 5-6 years now but it feels like this concept is finally ‘having a moment’ as more and more workplaces are catching on post-pandemic.
Essentially it’s about bringing the outside world into our built environment to harness nature’s mental and physical health benefits; so while I may be known for creating the world’s first biophilic gym back in 2017 those same principles can be applied to any type of indoor space, and ultimately we spend most of our time in our homes and in the office,so it is there that we’re seeing the most innovation at the moment.
How does biophilic design connect with the future of workplace wellbeing in your view?
For me, biophilic design combines elements of sustainability and wellbeing via its nature-first approach to materials, colours, sounds,textures and scent. It’s not just landscaping or putting plants on desks, as some might think, the deeper you go into the principles behind this design philosophy the more it gives back and the greater the impact can be. Recently I’ve been geeking out on innovative bio-materials from fruit skins and algae for example!
So why is this important? We’re looking to boost productivity and concentration while reducing anxiety and stress amongst employees and, just as importantly, respecting the environment in the process. It’s a lot to think about, I recognise that but it is absolutely within reach for most offices.
What are the intended outputs of this particular workplace wellbeing strategy?
Pretty quickly I realised that data illustrating the benefits of biophilic design was going to be key when pitching this concept to a CFO or CPO so in 2018 I carried out a research study with the University of Essex and EcoWorld Ballymore, a real estate developer with a biophilic residential building in Canary Wharf.
There is this innate connection in all of us to natural spaces, it’s an evolutionary thing, just think of the hundreds of thousands of years of history in which our ancestors’ survival depended entirely on their understanding of edible plants, wild animals, dangerous insects, the seasons, weather cycles and more.
Arguably there is nowhere better to bring some of this biophilia back into our lives than in soulless office interiors in a dense urban environment.
What’s your workplace wellbeing practice of choice?
It would have to be Active Design - it’s about being active at work, not so much working out at work (although that certainly does no harm if the opportunity is there!) instead it’s about using the stairs not the lift, adapting to a standing desk rather than a chair, moving between deep-work spaces and more collaborative zones in the office according to the task in hand rather than being locked in a private office, using a bike to get to and from the office, walking outside at lunchtime for a bite to eat, and so on.