A Guide for Mental Wellbeing

29 July 2019

The Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit offers simple practical advice to individuals and practices on coping with the stresses of an increasingly pressured profession. The Toolkit covers eight key themes, including the following topic of Office Culture and Overtime. 

Successfully managing stress levels within the workplace is an important component of long-term health for anyone. Having an office culture that supports and promotes healthy habits can reap many benefits including increased productivity, reduced absence rates, improved employee engagement, greater creativity and reduced staff turnover. A team with long-term healthy working habits will work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks, take annual leave and rest after busy periods.

The ideal is a workplace where individuals work hard and productively during core hours, but have the time to take care of their own lives and health – whether that be playing sport or going to the gym, seeing friends and family, putting time and effort into hobbies and interests outside of work or relaxing in order to get a good night’s sleep. When people feel frazzled or overwhelmed they are less likely to give their best, focus, be creative and have patience – attributes which are vital for any architect to be successful in their role (short and long term).

Tips for Practices

  • Lead from the front! Encouraging senior staff to leave at a sensible hour can have a trickle-down effect through the company
  • Carry out a Stress Risk Assessment to understand sources of stress
  • Monitor and take action to address long hours
  • Consider ideas such as flexible working, time off in lieu, or paid overtime, which foster trust in staff
  • Train staff in ‘soft skills’ such as time management, prioritisation and improving focus (through exercises such as mindfulness)

Tips for Individuals

  • Aim to work smart and hard – it is possible to achieve more in a productive 8 hours than a sluggish 14
  • Keep a ‘daily habits’ diary for a few weeks and honestly review the way you work
  • Plan out your day, work and goals each morning before you start
  • Reconsider the way you approach tasks – read up on ‘chunking’ systems such as the Pomodoro technique
  • Avoid multi-tasking – it is a false economy!
  • Look up the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) and try to resist perfectionism

 

The Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit was published in June 2019 by the UK-based Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum, developed with the assistance of RIBA, the Architects Benevolent Society and the 12 architectural practices that are members of the Forum. It covers eight key themes, including Support Systems and Staff Education, Caring for Students in Practice, Contracts and Client Relationships, Technology, the Physical Office Environment, Monitoring Staff Wellbeing and Championing an Active Mindful Approach. 

This excerpt has been published with permission. The full toolkit is a freely available online resource.

llustrations: Siân Rearden

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