Posted: 17.01.24

Saving space for joy

Blue Monday. Whether you think it's a marketing ploy or not, it is now a firm fixture in the consumer calendar. And, marketing ploy or not, it nonetheless serves as a reminder to businesses and brands to take a moment at the start of the year, and consider how we - consumers, employees - might be feeling, and what they might be able to do to bring some joy into the working day. That's got to be a good thing.

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Blue Monday. Whether you think it's a marketing ploy or not, it is now a firm fixture in the consumer calendar. And, marketing ploy or not, it nonetheless serves as a reminder to businesses and brands to take a moment at the start of the year, and consider how we - consumers, employees - might be feeling, and what they might be able to do to bring some joy into the working day. That's got to be a good thing.

This week, we at LCA were pleased to help promote one such plan of action. The Eastern City Business Improvement District (EC BID) represents, as it says on the tin, businesses in the eastern part of the City of London. It's one of the largest BIDs in the country and an important part of the Square Mile, stretching from Bank to Fenchurch St and including landmarks such as Bishopsgate,  Leadenhall Market and Monument. It's a vital part of the city's economic infrastructure and still one of the most influential districts globally. On Blue Monday, we released results of EC BID’s commissioned  survey looking into the mental, physical and environmental wellbeing of workers.

750 respondents across London, 17% of which were City workers, revealed concerning trends in mental health and wellbeing, particularly for the younger generations. 48% of Gen X and Millennials (ages 18 to 34) expressed heightened concerns about their mental health in January and February. Furthermore, 40% believe their work performance is affected by the state of their mental health.

This is concerning for London. Kate Hart, CEO of EC BID speaks of the "responsibility" held by her business and others to support the wellbeing of workers for the future resilience of the economy. Younger generations bring a diversity of thought and experience to any sector, and diversity is the bedrock of our city's vitality. Supporting this younger workforce is crucial therefore to ensuring a fruitful and dynamic future for London, especially in the City.

Thankfully, this conscientious young population (among whose numbers, at the ripe age of 35, I apparently no longer belong!) has provided an approach to solving its own problem. While the majority of older respondents (65+) said that nothing would encourage them to come into the office more, 46% of younguns expressed a desire for more unique activities in their work areas.

We see this evidenced in the rise and rise of 'competitive socialising'. Not some awful Freshers' Week re-hash comparing how many nights out you can do in a row; this is the mainstream adoption and GenX-ification of things like pub darts (Flight Club), ping-pong (Bounce) and crazy golf (Swingers).

Yes there is a responsibility from those who own the buildings or the businesses to serve their professional communities, but it needn't be that permanent or costly. The approaches can, and should, be varied. From quiet gardens and walking routes to disco yoga labs and 'sleeping for success' webinars. Or in LCA's case, the occasional in-office 15-minute neck and shoulder massage (bliss!). EC BID chose joy.

Last year we promoted their fabulous Evanescent installation, from creative studio Atelier Sisu. These giant, translucent, rainbow-coloured bubbles seemed to have floated in from Oz and landed at the foot of the Leadenhall Building. Simple but clearly effective, we secured a huge amount of coverage across print, digital and broadcast. In my opinion, part of their media success was that they just looked so beautiful. They needed no explanation and had immediate impact: who can look at a bubble and not be transplanted back to their childhood?

This year, we're working with EC BID on the sequel: Elysian Arcs. Due in February. These dichroic inflatable structures will again be positioned at the foot of the Leadenhall. Against the striking monochrome of the Eastern City, they will shine out like a beacon of levity, beauty and joy. Guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of someone who needs it. And sometimes, that's enough.

By Phoebe Gardiner
Associate Director