The Great Indoors | Designing for Social Connectedness in the Time of COVID

In the midst of these uncertain times, businesses across the globe are looking for new ways to support employee wellbeing and maintain social connectivity in both virtual and physical environments.  In an interview with Tarkett, a sustainable design company, SHINE’s Executive Director, Eileen McNeely shares about the opportunities that companies have to tackle well-being of their employees from a multi-dimensional point of view.

Q) Please can you tell us more about SHINE and how your research can help businesses promote health & wellbeing in the midst of Covid-19?

At SHINE, we study health and wellbeing by focusing on the platform of work because so many of our resources for complete wellbeing – social, emotional, purposeful and meaningful fulfilment, along with financial stability – come from the workplace. We undertake applied research, partnering with companies as incubator labs to help us understand what is going on in real-time.

By studying people in their usual environment, we’re able to bring much more insight to the data. Now, in the age of Covid-19, our work is more pertinent than ever before.

Also, because we’ve done workplace studies before Covid, and throughout these turbulent times, we can see what impact the pandemic is having on people and workplaces as we move through it.

Q2: How does SHINE’s research and focus differ to what most companies are already doing to explore ways of improving wellbeing in the time of Covid-19?

Most companies have been very aware of their responsibilities in terms of the requirements from the public health community and what keeps people safe e.g. social distancing, sanitation, testing and office density.

They will also recognise that employees with a high level of wellbeing will have a positive impact at work.

However, what many businesses have not got to grips with is the total disruption the pandemic has caused in every area of people’s lives. This has a huge impact on how they best support their employees.

In previous studies, we have looked at what people get from their work – financial security, dignity, meaning and purpose. But, what we didn’t really think about – and what really surprised us in our research – is that people actually get more social connectedness and belonging from work than outside of work.

And this is crucial. Many places have been – and some still are – in lockdown. This means that people have missed a key access point to what makes them happy, healthy and well: the workplace. So, it’s really important that companies are intentional about promoting social belongingness and connectedness.

Click here to read the full interview on Tarkett’s The Great Indoors Website.