16 July 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Offices could be making employees ill, according to a report on workplace well-being presented by the British Council for Offices (BCO).
One in six office workers believes that their workplace is having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, states the BCO study.
And although 96 per cent indicated that workplace health and well-being is important to them, fewer than half of the respondents feel that their workplace is having a positive impact on their health.
Significantly, 17 per cent believe that the working environment is diminishing their personal well-being.
Wellness matters: Health and Well-being in Offices and What to Do About It is one of the largest pieces of research ever undertaken by the industry. It took a year to complete and is believed to have cost in the region of £100,000.
Launched at the BCO's annual conference in Berlin this summer, the study says that businesses that are willing to invest in health and well-being are reaping the rewards of increased productivity, lower costs from illness - and an enhanced reputation.
It also includes lessons for government, quantifying the impact of office wellness through reduced costs in health and social care and increased productivity.
Rob Groves of property developer Argent and chairman of the BCO Midlands and East Anglia committee, said: "The work achieved in this study represents a significant step forward in the industry's understanding of health and well-being and provides a definitive guide on how to tackle the issue."
The report critiques existing health and well-being measurement and certification. It identifies the most recent and relevant medical evidence justifying a proactive approach to health and well-being in the built environment and articulates the business case for investment in this space beyond simply improving productivity.
The research also delivers a practical and professional guide to creating a healthy environment across the different stages of a building's life cycle, from design, construction and leasing to occupation and asset management.
While the data does not suggest a workplace wellness crisis, it does suggest that opportunities to improve health and well-being are being missed.
Elaine Rossall, chairman of the BCO research committee, said: "The health and wellness agenda is, rightly, growing in importance and prominence. Wellness Matters
"There is still a perception in the industry that health and well-being is 'just something an occupier does in its fitout and staff management' and by association investors, developers and designers need not concern themselves.
"We fundamentally challenge that - there are opportunities throughout a building's lifecycle to enable change. Successful intervention should manifest in shorter voids for developers; greater income retention for investors and healthier, happier staff for occupiers who will gain from better recruitment and retention."
The report was led by a consortium of Sentinel RPI, Elementa Consulting, Perkins +Will and Will+Partner's, backed by medical and academic input from Royal Brompton, Imperial College and Queen Mary University. Evidence was reviewed from the USA, Europe and globally.