Nowadays, people want much more out of their office than simply a place to work. With many of us spending long hours on the clock, the office is becoming much more of a living space, and many companies are investing heavily in making sure it feels like a home away from home. Locally, Vivendo Group, which offers both standard and bespoke furniture finishing solutions for home and commercial spaces, has been spearheading the movement which places wellness as a priority at the workplace.
Partitions at Casumo by Dex Workspaces
“One of the challenges that any employer faces is hiring quality employees and keeping them. We’re not just talking about millennials here, but all workers,” says Christine Gingell, B2B Development Manager of Vivendo. “Wellness at the office may be the key to keeping employees happy, boosting retention rates and cutting down on absenteeism. The wellness trend in Malta has only picked up over the last five years, but we’ve been at the forefront when it comes to believing in it and promoting it. We’ve made it a focal part of our strategy.”
She showed me around the range available at DEX, the company’s retail outlet focused on workspace furniture. This is where you’ll be able to find whatever you need for your office, whether that’s a simple desk and seating, or a fully-outfitted office space. Seating makes up a significant part of the company’s offering – DEX stocks a wide variety of ergonomic chairs from exclusive brands such as Vitra, which includes some models that come with a 30-year warranty to suit every height and body type. “All have different functionalities, such as adjustable lumbar support,” Christine says, demonstrating one such chair. The support is on the inside of the chair, making sure it targets the small of your back, which is most prone to stress during a long work day.
The company also provides alternative forms of seating, such as a weighted wellness ball. “They come in more than just one size, so that different people can use them. When you’re sitting down, you have to make sure your knees are slightly higher than your hips, to reduce the stress on your back,” Christine explains. And the fact that they’re weighted means that they don’t just roll off when they’re not in use. “It’s all about following the advice that physiotherapists give you – get up, take breaks, avoid sitting down for 10 hours straight because it’s not healthy. These products give you the facility to do that whilst remaining productive.”
Tyde height-adjustable desk by Dex Workspaces
Another product which is becoming much more common in Malta is a height-adjustable desk, which goes up and down as needed. “Even if you want to have a meeting, you can stand up, as it goes all the way up to bar-level. In many countries, it’s standard, and in others, such as Scandinvian markets, it’s actually illegal not to offer a height-adjustable desk option!” Christine says. She says that most companies in Malta choose to have a handful of height-adjustable desks in an office, which are especially useful when it comes to hotdesking. “You just switch on a laptop, adjust it to suit your height, and it can be used by anyone. It’s a good option to have.”
Additionally, with so many modern offices having an open-plan layout, DEX offers a number of noise reduction options. “Having an open plan is not about being noisy and disturbing each other – it’s all about team work, and these are products and solutions that really help with that,” she says. “We offer acoustic ceilings, as well as solutions such as the Vitra Workbay, which can be easily adjusted and re-configured, depending on what is needed at the time.”
DEX also partners with Italian gym brand Technogym, which fuses tech with gym equipment. “Besides being able to browse while working out, you can download apps to create your own personal training schedule, so that you can have wellness on the go,” Christine explains. “We do quite a number of offices where there’s space dedicated to fitness, so they’d have a small gym or a couple of machines. We also offer corporate gym rates for companies which do not have the possibility of utilising such a space.”
And It’s not just foreign companies with their famously attractive offices which are focusing on wellness at work. Keith Bezzina, Sales & Commercial Manager at DEX Workspaces, says that many local companies are also getting on board. “The way the job market is at the moment, you have to compete for employees, and having a great office environment is one of the ways you can do so.”
He talks me through some of the turnkey projects that Vivendo has carried out, including the new Farsons headquarters, M&Z Marketing, the BOV head office and offices in Spinola Park. From gypsum, soundproofing, raised flooring and glass partitioning, to desks and seating, Vivendo did it all. “We are backed by 20 delivery and installation teams and have a large logistics capability, delivering to 30 – 40 clients on a daily basis,” Christine adds. “When you’re doing a project, you need to get everything there on time. For larger projects, from order to installation, there is usually a two-month turnaround, but then, installation can be completed in a matter of days. Our reputation on delivery times is very strong.”
Farsons Headquarters flooring by Dex Workspaces
Keith also noted the increasing demand for raised flooring. “It’s a very flexible way of partitioning and making changes to a space. All cables are stored underneath the floor, which means that it’s safer, cleaner and looks better. In 2018, we did around 17,000 sqm of raised flooring on different sites, and 2019 is looking even stronger, with several confirmations already in hand for this year.”
Besides being focused on the wellness of its employees, DEX is also very much focused on the environmental impact of its products. “We only partner with European suppliers who have all the sustainability certificates in hand,” says Christine. “One of our main clients this year is working very hard towards LEED certification, and that’s the direction towards which we’ll be heading too,” says Keith.
Finally, Christine and Keith expressed their wish that an emphasis on wellness-focused spaces would at a younger age, long before one sets foot in an office, as this could have highly beneficial effects. “Our leading acoustics partner has studies showing that children who are diagnosed with learning disabilities are often simply struggling to hear in the classroom, so better classroom acoustics would help them out a lot,” Christine says. And if investing money in the little people who will be the workforce of tomorrow isn’t a good idea, I don’t know what is.