10 July 2017 | Paul Nuki
For as long as anyone can remember, corporate wellness has been run by HR departments. Too often the only output is a poorly attended 'wellness week' squeezed between reorganisations.
But the focus in corporate wellness is shifting towards the buildings in which corporate employees spend most of their working time.
Chief among the reasons for this is the spread of long-term health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and the realisation among public health experts that they are in large part 'environmental' conditions.
It's not poor water or infection that drive their spread but a lack of movement and overconsumption. The sedentary office is the stagnant water pump of our time.
"A significant body of research and historical case studies demonstrate that the design of the built environment can have a positive impact on population health", says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. "Designers, real estate developers, building owners, and managers must play a key role in reversing these troubling health trends, by prioritising health in their facility investments".
It's not difficult to become expert in something as simple as leading a healthy workstyle and applying it to office design. But it does require you to put what you think you know about health aside and start afresh.
The best place to start is with the scientific evidence-base for the interplay between health and the built environment.
The two big new healthy building standards - Fitwel and WELL - walk you through the basics. Fitwel keeps things focused on the evidenced essentials, while WELL touches on some of the more cutting-edge thinking, such as circadian lighting, for which evidence is emerging. And both have a chapter on the natural gym in all multi-storey buildings - the stairs.
Paul Nuki is a co-founder and CEO of StepJockey