Make 2023 a Success with Insights from 2022

Experts explain how our future success hinges on creating mindful cultures and thoughtful designs

As we continue to seek out new ways to get any job done in our ever-evolving, work-from-anywhere world, we’re breaking the boundaries of flexibility and putting our resolve to the test every day. We have more choices now in where and how we work than ever before, thanks to our experiences, creativity, and innovation.

In a recent Haworth Connect webinar, we explored these topics in a panel presentation, featuring workplace culture and leadership expert Eric Termuende, resilience expert Adam Markel, and Haworth Senior Workplace Design Strategist John Scott. Moderator and Haworth Advanced Insights and Research Group Manager Marta Wassenaar asked them to share their thoughts on the power of nature to boost well-being, leveraging uncertainty to build resilience, and how consistently making small improvements can help us create the greatest places to work in 2023 and beyond.

Our Best Ambassadors

As we look back on 2022, a major market impact has been made by the US labor shortage, which is greater than it has been in a half-century. According to Eric, author of the best-seller Rethink Work: Finding and Keeping the Right Talent, there are about 5.5 million more jobs than people to fill them, and we closed out the year with an unemployment rate of about 3.7%. As a result, workers are doing more than ever—and that is taking a toll on their well-being. Mental exhaustion is setting the stage for themes, such as Quiet Quitting and the Great Resignation, as people are opting to scale back, change jobs, and even leave the workforce. Additionally, Eric noted that evolving technology continues to change how and where people work—even revitalizing the world of work.

“I would argue that the talent shortage actually isn’t something that we have to worry about. Yes, there may be a talent shortage nationally, but there does not have to be a talent shortage for those who are looking to build a more intentional place to work,” Eric said. “Through office design, we can create a future of work that’s completely tailored to the people that are working with us. When we can do that, our people are going to be our biggest ambassadors, our best recruiters. We’re going to be creating phenomenal places to work, despite the future being impossible to predict.”

“Through purposeful design, we can create environments that make us happier, healthier, and more productive overall.”

John Scott
Haworth Senior Workplace Design Strategist

The Benefits of Nature

People spend upwards of 90% of their time indoors. But John believes that when we take the opportunity to step outdoors now and then, we can change that—and see instant benefits from it. Even short exposures to nature can help us feel more creative, more civic-minded, and healthier—emotionally and physically. Spending just 5 hours a month outdoors can help improve our overall happiness. And, those who spend more time outdoors have stronger immune systems and fewer stress hormones in their bodies. So, why not take your next meeting or brainstorming session outdoors—weather permitting, of course—where you and your team can generate better ideas and even more creativity?

“There are also great benefits to bringing the outdoors in,” said John. “It can help connect employees to the elements of nature. Look for ways to introduce biophilic design elements into the workplace, whether through sustainable materials, plants, or other nature-inspired features.” According to John, plants not only improve indoor air quality, but they can increase productivity by 10%. Windows with daylight streaming in can improve well-being and productivity, as well. As little as 13 minutes of exposure to natural light can be enough to trigger certain endorphins in the brain that increase happiness.

Outdoor and nature-inspired work environments are going to continue to take on greater meaning in the new year. “We have to think about putting ourselves in the right environment—both indoors and outdoors—to feel happier, healthier, and more productive overall next year,” John said.

Greater Resilience Fosters Better Well-Being

Research has proven that resilient individuals and teams enjoy better health, according to Adam, best-selling author of the book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience. He stated that “resilients,” as he calls them, have more energy and are less prone to burnout. There’s also less toxicity and turnover in workplaces that support resilience for their people. “Resilience, though,” Adam said, “is not one singular thing. It’s holistic, mental, emotional, physical, and it’s even spiritual. Resilience is not about grit, perseverance, and endurance; it’s about recovery and how we restore.”

“How we restore is ultimately what will relieve stress in times of great change, like the ones we’re living in right now. We have to find creative solutions,” said Adam, adding that recovery can simply come in the form of 5- or 10-minute breaks between meetings—allowing time for our brains to cool down. “I am a big fan of the walk-and-talk meeting,” Adam said, highlighting the connection between the outdoors and resilience. “Getting out 20 and 30 minutes at a time and simply being in nature, breathing fresh air, is phenomenal. The change that comes over you lowers your blood pressure, it cures hypertension. It changes your physiology in a way that allows you to recover more quickly from the stress that you’re facing.”

As we move into 2023, Adam noted that leaders should go to their people and discuss what can be done to increase the team’s resilience. “Resilience has to become a part of the culture of your organization. The standard operating practices have to reflect that it is important. Leaders have to model it and give permission to others to take care of themselves,” he said.

Moving toward a Successful Future

Going forward, our lives and the ways we work will continue to change, and the workplace will continue to adapt. Successful organizations will focus on creating cultures with a mindfulness around supporting people in being their best selves. “There is certainly much to be excited about in 2023, and it appears we have much to be intentional about—in our personal lives, but also for the organizations and communities we live and work in,” said Marta.