Doing More With Less: Landlords Embrace Office Well-Being With A One-Size-Fits-All Approach
At Google’s New York City headquarters, employees can use a climbing wall to stretch their legs in between meetings. AOL’s corporate campus has a designated nap room that lets workers relax their bodies and minds. Unilever provides employees some peace of mind with access to a wellness zone.
As more companies strive to attract and retain top talent, they are investing in employee perks that increase access to wellness and quality of life. But in many cases, these wellness activities require extra space, and not all offices have that luxury. To compensate, companies in smaller offices are thinking creatively about how to optimise space while improving the well-being of their employees.
“Wellness is a key consideration for companies looking to increase productivity,” Cluttons Project Management Partner Philip Booth said. “A company’s biggest cost is its employees, and modern offices need to adopt infrastructure that supports well-being and encourages a healthy lifestyle. These wellness trends increase productivity, decrease sick days and benefit a company’s bottom line.”
Booth has spent much of his career advising clients on how to effectively manage their properties. He stays ahead of trends and innovations to best advise clients on how to experiment with their buildings. In London’s office buildings, this means getting creative with limited space. The majority of the city’s office buildings are under 5K SF, which presents a challenge for companies that want to provide space for wellness activities. Landlords have to be selective about which types of wellness features they can implement, Booth said.
Promoting a healthier work environment can often be as simple as creating more access to natural light. In buildings that lack access to large, wall-to-wall windows, landlords have introduced lighting solutions, such as LED light fixtures, that mimic outside brightness patterns. By imitating the level of outdoor light, these lights promote tranquillity in the office, decreasing stress levels. This access to natural changes in light aligns with circadian rhythms. For example, it is easy to lose track of time in a cubicle under a fluorescent light, but LED fixtures and similar lighting solutions create a sensation that reflects a more natural experience.
Interior design choices can also have a significant impact on office wellness. Several workspaces have placed specific plants and colours throughout the office to create a more natural vibe. The scent of certain plants and flowers can boost mental health, and colours like blue and green are scientifically proven to relieve anxiety. While not all offices can imitate Amazon’s giant greenhouses, for instance, these subtle amenities can make an office more comfortable and, in turn, increase employee engagement.
Landlords are also beginning to pay close attention to the WELL rating system, which has become a global industry standard for office well-being. The WELL certification rates buildings based on how they optimise eight main categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, mind and innovation. The program aims to foster a formula for advancing building health and well-being on a global scale.
“The WELL standard has raised awareness about the importance of wellness in buildings, similar to the way that WiredScore has come to define connectivity in buildings,” Booth said. “If you look at the WELL Building Certificate there is a list of things you can do. Can you put more water filters in, can you be more sensitive about the fixtures and fittings? If you can’t have yoga classes in your building, can you work with employers to offers discounts for somewhere nearby? It’s about not having the paranoia about not being able to deliver everything and dismissing it out of hand because you can’t do it all, but spending money in the right way.”
Wellness in the office is still a relatively new concept, but Booth predicts the trend will continue to gain traction in London and across Europe. Office well-being activities are not just reserved for Class-A buildings. They can be achieved by buildings of different sizes and on a low budget. As companies continue to invest in the growth and retention of their employees, more buildings will prioritise opportunities to help their tenants maintain healthy lifestyles.
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