25 September 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
How our office environment can be adapted and controlled to assist workers to live a physical and mentally healthy life will have a dramatic impact on the UK real estate office market over the next few years.
According to a report by international law firm CMS UK, UK Real Estate - Smart Healthy Agile, office life is affecting both the mental and physical health of workers.
Research conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of CMS surveyed 350 real estate investors, developers and agents who control combined assets of over £400 billion and more than 1,000 office workers in cities, towns and business parks across the UK to examine their attitudes to the future of the office and the real estate market.
It reveals that problems relating to breathing, vision, posture, weight and mental health are all on the rise. Both office workers and real estate professionals overwhelmingly agree that the office affects both their mental and physical health.
Employers are responding proactively and real estate decisions are important in this regard. Investors and developers are increasingly focused on creating spaces where staff not only feel physically comfortable, but also engage in activities that enhance their well-being and overall happiness.
This in turn improves the bottom line for businesses through productivity gains and reduced absenteeism.
It is within this context that the WELL Building Standard emerged. WELL building certification is like a nutritional label confirming that all the ingredients that go into a building are healthy for its inhabitants, including aspects such as air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
The fact that 79 per cent of real estate professionals saw WELL building certification as being important in making an office building attractive to occupiers shows how seriously the industry is taking this issue.
Indeed, despite its fairly recent inception, WELL is not far behind the more established rating schemes WiredScore (connectivity) at 87 per cent and BREEAM (sustainability) at 88 per cent rating schemes in the eyes of respondents.
Other findings include:
- 96 per cent of real estate professionals and 86 per cent of office workers believe the office has a significant impact on their physical and mental well-being.
- 86 per cent of office workers say work-life balance, including the ability to work in an agile way is most important factor when choosing who they work for.
- 79 per cent of real estate professionals see WELL building certification as attractive to occupiers.
- 82 per cent of office workers found working in co-working or flexible space appealing.
- 94 per cent of real estate professionals expect the demand for co-working space to increase.
- 89 per cent believe that adopting co-working spaces will become a component of real estate strategies for large companies in the next five years.
Ciaran Carvalho, head of real estate at CMS UK, said: "Accelerating change in the workplace is also increasing pressure on offices. Technology and changing attitudes, partly driven by the growing millennial cohort, are transforming the very nature of work. What is more, the 'war for talent' coupled with concerns about the mental and physical health of today's employees is bringing into sharper focus the role the office environment plays. The lines between home, leisure and workplace are blurring."