A Typology of Wellbeing Spaces

This typology is based on research findings. It highlights that there may be different sites, locations, spaces or rooms in social enterprises, that could be helpful for realising wellbeing.

This is intended to help reflect on social enterprise spaces and places that already exist, thinking about their role in wellbeing.

Click on the boxes to understand the function that different rooms and spaces have in relation to wellbeing realisation.

Design elements for Spaces of Wellbeing

Through our research we established that aspects of wellbeing are consistently realised through elements that come together in spaces. For practicality, we think of these elements as:

Practices – things that are done in the spaces;

People – their style, attitudes, and the worker culture of spaces;

Physical Location and Objects –objective physical aspects of spaces; and

Narratives – what is said and the stories told about spaces

We present design elements to consider if you aim to generate wellbeing in social enterprise spaces. This could help to understand how to optimise opportunities for realising wellbeing.

Designing for:


• People with diverse backgrounds, experiences and capabilities
• People working as part of a team


• Opportunities for problem solving, teamwork or negotiating tasks
• Opportunities for employees to interact outside of the social enterprise and in the community (thus facilitating mutual encounters)
• Pairing people up in mentor/learner or mutual learning partnerships
• Practices encouraging people to socialise or mingle
• Strategic deployment of numbers of people in a smaller space so they literally ‘bump’ (bumping spaces)

Location and Objects

• Communal workspaces such as a table to work around
• Co-location of different activities
• Spaces that allow for interaction while working


• Talking about inclusion and acceptance (e.g discussions of gender roles, different cultural backgrounds and life experiences)
• Working well together, with respectful relationships acknowledged and discussed


• Peer to peer teaching and learning
• Staff that encourage skill building
• Mentors


• Formal personal/skills development planning, goal setting, checking-off and visibly acknowledging achievements
• Triaging/trying out people with tasks to see where they have aptitudes, thrive, enjoy or excel
• Moving/ progressing people through tasks
• Allowing people to move in and out of routine or complex tasks
• Having a range of tasks that enable people to work to their own capacity and at different times

Location and Objects

• Variety of practical and creative work tools that facilitate existing skills
• Variety of complex work tools that encourage learning and skill building
• Different micro-workspaces (e.g. kitchen benches) that can be associated with increasing complexity of tasks


• Narratives of achievement and progression
• Communicating that it is valued that individuals work to their own capacity (while encouraging them to build new capacities)
• Encouraging ‘trying’ and acknowledging that failing is ok and part of the learning process


• Staff available to assist employees in the workplace
• Staff available and with skills to address life issues


• Mix of routine and changing work tasks
• Setting expectations for what is to be achieved for the day
• Regularly checking in with employees

Location and Objects

• Physical or/and emotional safe space away from threats in the community
• A physically safe workplace following safety guidelines
• A space with an ‘open-door’ policy
• Spaces that have a familiarity about them, where people know instinctively what they are for


• Narratives of ‘you can do it’, ‘you should give it a go’, ‘you can do it if you try’
• Communicating that ‘we are here for you’ by supervisors and support staff
• Building an understanding that employees belong and are valued
• Narrative of ‘we are all different and we are all valuable in our difference’


• Availability of staff to help work through challenges and ill-health


• Availability of simple repetitive tasks for those times when calm and repetition is helpful
• Giving employees physical and mental ‘space’, if needed
• Create opportunities for laughter and chat
• Opportunity to be amongst other people without pressure to interact

Location and Objects

• Small peaceful spaces to be alone
• Spaces for ‘recovery’
• Green or eco-spaces
• Radio/Music available in some places/ at some times


• Create an understanding that all physical and mental needs are accommodated and supported
• Communicating that mental health is an important aspect of wellbeing in the workplace

Designing your Organisation for Wellbeing

Young people’s health and wellbeing is supported by Work Integration Social Enterprise (‘WISE’) through programs that make learning, education, employment and social networks accessible and supportive. We have carried out research with WISE in Australia to better understand how they structure and design their social enterprises to intervene in the Social Determinants of Health, including: education; employment; social participation; and personal development. Click on the boxes to learn more about the targeted design elements that affect the Social Determinants of Health.

Design elements for Wellbeing in your Organisation

We present here the design elements that you may want to consider within the different features in your organisation, to design for wellbeing.


Operating across different physical sites or business locations (i.e. ‘muti-site’), provides young people with the opportunity to work and socialise with different people, in new workplace environments, and with different types of support.

Youth Programs Teams

Having a designated youth program team and training staff provides the structure for wraparound support.

Accredited training onsite

Having a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) ‘on-site’ at the social business premises allows participants’ learning experiences to be integrated with the physical space of the WISE. For example, learning cooking skills in the WISE kitchen or learning building skills at the WISE warehouse.

What are my funding options

(a) There are different types of funding opportunities available for WISE at different stages of development. Funding opportunities for new organisations are provided by early stage investors and can include start up funding. WISE that are further down the track can access Accelerator programs/funds and Philanthropic and Government funding. It is important to get the right type of funding for your WISE; (b) The funding options available depend on the structure of the WISE – it is important to find the right funding, but it is also important to understand that your legal structure will dictate the type of funding available to you.

Funding rules and limitations

Some funding opportunities provide more freedom than others. What type of funding is appropriate for your WISE? Consider if the funding body shares your social focus, or if the funders timeline works for you.

Matching funding to program

What would you need to make the program engaging, accessible and meaningful for young people? What sort of funding can support these costs?

Procurement opportunities

Social procurement provides new opportunities for WISE. Being ‘Social Procurement ready’ requires a level of organisational maturity to be established. Consider how commercial opportunities align with your business development, scale and scope.

Costs and benefits

Consider if the costs of operating in the industry are high or low; if they are high, how will you offset your expenses? You will need to be able to sell your product/services at a margin. Its important to find out if there is a market for the good/services you are thinking of producing.


What industry will you be connected to? For example, Farming, Building, Hospitality or Information Technology. Consider how the industry will effect your training and education program. For example, do the industry regulations and conditions support on the job training or on-site training? What certification will you need to build a WISE in this industry? Will the industry area support other the activities that benefit young people?

Labour market and employment

Consider if there are employment opportunities or other significant benefits for young people in this industry area. For example, will employment opportunities be accessible and local or will people be expected to travel and commute? Also, consider if the culture and gender norms of the industry are suitable for young people who may have complex backgrounds.

Outdoor Spaces

WISE that have business sites that are outdoors or connected to open-plan areas are better for our health. For example, farms with animals or vegetable gardens are stimulating and enable hands-on learning in open air environments. Open, spacious environments can also be simulated by warehouse settings or indoor-outdoor cafes.

Nooks and Crannies

Hidden areas and unused rooms can help to reduce stress levels by providing a place for quiet and solitude when needed.


Classroom-based teaching and learning may not suit everyone, and may even limit young people who learn through hands-on activity and physical movement. How can your WISE contribute to alternative, stimulating learning spaces?

Meaningful and Youth-centred engagement

This is supported by an organisational culture that is accepting and inclusive with a ‘come as you are’ approach that empowers young people, and reassures them that they belong. A culture of supported learning and employment blended with professionalism encourages young people to understand themselves as emerging staff members who contribute to the organisational culture. This is the blurriness of the SE offering – but this is where the value is! Staff are personable but also maintain professional boundaries and expectations around workplace conduct.

Product and service quality

WISE compete with commercial organisations in the marketplace. A culture of high quality whether for your program or your product/service is essential for building meaningful relationships, reputation and social purpose.

Going ‘above and beyond’

A non-institutional, ‘above and beyond’ approach to support means offering specialised forms of support to young people. This creates an understanding and comforting environment in which barriers to learning can be addressed, like social stigma around literacy and numeracy or physical mental health differences.

Who should work at the WISE?

Employing individuals with skills in social and business operations, who communicate effectively and can empathise with others (i.e. have ’emotional intelligence’) can help to support the goals and mission of your organisation. The hybrid (social + business) nature of the WISE means that staff often bring industry skills, for example, in hospitality, to the WISE and develop other skills on the job.

Build flexibility in (talk it out)

Having a time and space for regular staff meetings is vital for information sharing. Informal staff chats are just as important and let staff share knowledge, strategise, develop new ideas and build relationships.

What policies support youth programs?

A good starting point is an intake policy of diversity and group coherence. This means including young people who will be able to get along together, who share similar goals, and can learn from one another. Also:
– Setting clear boundaries for all creates clarity for new participants;
– Risk management strategies create a safe learning and workspace;
– Goal setting empowers young people, and gives staff more information about individuals and their interests.

Engaging Stakeholders

A ‘with not for’: approach to working with young people is great for building an inclusive organisational culture.

Shared Goals

Agreeing on shared goals with your partners from the outset will create strong foundations for a lasting relationship. For example, developing a shared approach to how you and your partners will support employment can help create a consistent and reassuring experience for young people. This can help young people feel at ease about transitioning into work outside of the program.

In-depth Relationships

Lasting relationships help to develop the identity of your organisation and enhance the social impact of your programs. For example, transitional programs that are supported by employment providers can be expanded and developed to offer new and exciting programs.