Who are you and what’s your brand's story? I previously spent my career working as a buyer and truly enjoyed the experience of helping people to launch and promote their brands. Having moved to London to pursue my career I threw myself into my work, powering through my days and lunch breaks and saying yes to everything thrown my way. The terms rest and mental health just weren’t on my radar and I certainly wasn’t alone. That was until a few years ago when I found myself burnt out and suffering from anxiety, which at the time was a complete curveball. I decided to seek help and rather than receiving the quick fix I was hoping for, I was told to re-assess my lifestyle and take better care of myself which largely revolved around integrating time for my mind and body to rest and recharge. This was the catalyst that eventually led to me founding awol.
Why did you start? With my newfound knowledge of how to better care for my mental health I started to use a meditation app to take short breaks through the day to recharge my mind but really struggled to find a space to do this. During this time my colleagues and friends opened up about their struggle to find this time and space too and shared that it was often the reason they went for more cigarette or coffee breaks than they would otherwise. So many people admitted (and have continued to since then) hiding out in the loos to think or take 5. I realised there was a real need for a quiet and private space and this eventually led to the launch of our wellness pods.
Tell us more about your wellness pods? We wanted to create a space that was private, relaxing and inclusive. Using sustainable materials including birch ply and wool felt, we created a simple and organic design that was comfy, cosy and suited multiple indoor environments. We didn’t want to dictate how people spent their downtime so added optional relaxation aids inside including a smart tablet programmed with guided relaxation and ‘stress SOS’ sessions, wellbeing books and cosy accessories.
Why do you think mental health in the workplace is important? 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer from a mental health issue and the workplace is where we spend the majority of our time, therefore affecting change in the workplace is a really powerful thing. From a business perspective, people are the cornerstone of company success and so supporting employee health and wellness can really drive business innovation and bottom line.
How can you intertwine design with mental health? More than ever, companies and designers are embracing human centric design, with biophilic design at the forefront of this movement. Integrating natural elements into indoor environments is proven to reduce stress and boost productivity which is why we’ve integrated natural materials, shapes and plants into our installation design.
Ideally what would you like to see regarding your brand / design and mental health going forward? Our brand has morphed from being purely about physical design to offering a 360 degree approach which now includes specially curated corporate workshops and training as well as an increased focus on the UX of our digital wellbeing content. I’m excited to continue to work with companies and interact with employees in this multi-tiered and integrated way. In terms of mental health as a whole, I feel really positive about huge increase in awareness and de-stigmatisation that’s occurring right now. I’d love to see generations to come treat mental health with the same attitude and day-to-day maintenance they do their physical health.
Where can people find out more about awol? You can find us at www.awol.work. We offer no obligation consultation calls which you can book via our site.
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+44 (0)20 7739 5561
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street
Old Truman Brewery
+44 (0)20 7739 5561
+44 (0)20 7739 5561