The Healthy Executive – With Healthy Spaces Guru Rex Miller, Part 2

This week we’re excited to bring a little more insight into Rex Miller’s book, The Healthy Workplace Nudge. As stated on the front cover, this book shows how healthy people, culture and buildings lead to high performance. It also recognizes that our leaders must care about not only our physical health but our mental health as well. “Commitments, engagement and the bigger picture of a company’s values all come from a leadership of care,” said Rex. “People are valuable just because they’re people, and what hurts them trickles to their families and then into our communities.” Without caring for our employees’ mental health, the physical will deteriorate.

Happiness is a priority

And this is where we continue our discussion from last week’s focus on how mental stress affects us. All of us, especially our leaders, must commit to the bigger picture of looking at our companies’ values and ensuring people and their mental health are placed at the top of the value pyramid. “Traditional wellness programs don’t work, so the number one priority that does work is to place your employees’ happiness before physical health programs,” per Rex. “Happy employees are more engaged with their work, coworkers and surroundings. Provide the tools to get them there.”

Making the shift

So what can be done to make the shift from physical health only to include mental happiness? Making your corporate environmental policy the default choice. Companies need to design their facility around their corporate culture. “Facility has the root meaning ‘to facilitate’; thus, our surroundings lead us with space being a proxy to our values.” The book gives many positive, proven examples of how changing, or nudging, employees into a state of wellbeing can facilitate happiness and healthier choices, which in turn, increase physical healthiness. Some things to consider when developing your environmental policy based on your company’s culture:

  • Design your office space to your culture. First, you may have to dive deep to define your desired culture, then design the environment to fit your employee’s needs, wants and results. You may rediscover your company’s mission statement during the process.
  • Hear your shadow culture: it’s the hidden culture that really drives the way things get done. You don’t find it on the org chart. Do you need to change the culture or embrace it? If your shadow culture isn’t on board with a wellness change, then it’s not likely to succeed.
  • Discover your office’s distractions. The digital age has brought us Digital Distraction, which is designed to be addictive. Address the issue within your office space.
  • Provide recovery spaces. Treat your brain like a muscle. Overuse can cause mistakes, so learn to provide places specifically designed to provide brain rest. As little as 10 minutes with a specific protocol can provide the appropriate recovery time for your mind.
  • Keep in mind that 40% of employees are introverts and need their planned space along with all of the gathering areas too, such as computer rooms, break/lounge rooms, meeting rooms, call centers, etc. We all need private space during some point in the day.
  • Maintain flexibility with employees so they can find the best time of day to work with undistracted thinking. Let them track time into segments of Day Work, Light Work, Distraction and Recovery. My best time for work is right before the noon on any given day.

Fact: your environment is one of the largest contributors to your overall health. Executives need to assess their corporate values and lead their company to the desired behavior, or external mission within your environment. “To succeed, know that for every 12 employees on a boat, you will find that 5 are in the front rowing and leading by example, 5 are in the middle who are the managed employees that will shift to follow the example, and 2 are in the back of the boat drilling holes,” said Rex. Find your drillers and help them understand how they can get back on your boat.

Contact Rex

A word from Rex: “If you feel like your world is a bit out of control, we can share how others are making the shift in little ways – ultradian rhythms is an example of where one finds his or her peak performance time and limits any distractions during it – learn to be flexible so employees can find their own individual peak times while also finding your organization’s healthy workplace.”

You can contact Rex and his team through his website at You can also see an intro to his book here. I recommend contacting Rex’s team if your organization is considering embarking on a well-being journey, one that can decrease your company’s health costs while increasing productivity and saving money. You can tell them David recommended it.