Health & Wellness and Productivity

Health, wellbeing and productivity encompass a whole range of related and complex issues. Health encapsulates physical and mental health, while wellbeing addresses broader feelings or perceptions of satisfaction and happiness. Productivity tends to refer more explicitly to business-oriented outputs, although that is also directly affected by health and wellbeing, so delineating between the three is not easy. 

There is substantial evidence which demonstrates that the design of an office impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants. How to achieve optimum design is not always clear amongst the plethora of information and scientific research.  While the property industry’s understanding of the implications of office design on health, wellbeing and productivity is deepening, aided by advances in technology and a growing awareness amongst a small number of enlightened developers, owners and occupiers, this is by no means universal. For instance, it is increasingly clear that there is a difference between office environments that are simply not harmful – i.e. the absence of ‘bad’ – and environments that positively encourage health and wellbeing, and stimulate productivity. However, there is much ambiguity within the real estate sector when it comes to translating the positive aims and ambitions into design, construction, finance, leasing and operational decisions. 

The health, wellbeing and productivity agenda is powerful because it impacts everyone.  Engaging with this early and carefully promises significant benefits for companies who choose to stay ahead of the curve.  The BCO recognises the importance of the growing Health and Wellbeing agenda and the implications it has to both office design and how the attitudes towards the office are changing.  To this end it has commissioned two new pieces of research. The first, Defining and Measuring Productivity in Offices, published November, examines how the physical design and management of offices can influence both individual and organisational productivity.  It provides a definition of a productive workplace, how productivity can be measured and the steps that can be taken to make the most of available opportunities to improve performance.  The report identifies four different elements which need to be considered in creating a good workplace environment.  It should be healthy, supporting and improving individual wellbeing in the workplace and efficient, making good use of space, time and information. It also needs to be effective, enabling people to do their work well, and engaging – looking and feeling like a great place to work.

Creating a better workplace environment is something that should be a priority for the property professionals.  The report provides designers, developers, owners, occupiers and managers of office space with a framework which can be used in its entirety or in a piecemeal fashion to address specific issues.  It can be adopted and adapted to bring about improvements in work environments with a direct and positive impact on productivity.

The second major piece of research is a year- long study into health & wellbeing in offices.  The report Wellness Matter: health & wellbeing in offices and what to do about it will examine the plethora of medical research, identifying the most relevant and salient evidence.  Furthermore, it will provide a critique of the existing measurement and certification including WELL, Fitwel, SKA and BREEAM and finally and most importantly it will provide guidance on how to achieve health & wellbeing at every stage of the building cycle from design through to development, occupation and asset management.  The report’s findings will be published in May 2018.

Access the BCO research page and download reports and read our blogs to find out more about the future of workplace. Become a member, join the debate and help to shape the future of the industry