Wellbeing In Design: How A Healthy Office Can Support A Healthy Bottom Line

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Wellbeing In Design: How A Healthy Office Can Support A Healthy Bottom Line

Want to get the most out of your staff? Research increasingly shows the office setting itself can have a significant impact on their health, wellbeing and productivity. Hard data links factors such as clean air and light levels to sickness, absence and performance. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at how your office can look after your staff and, in turn, your bottom line.

The Case for Staff Wellbeing

Forget technology, real estate or supplies; the largest operating cost for a typical business is its staff. Salaries and workplace benefits account for a staggering 90%. Naturally, businesses want to achieve the best return on this significant investment. To do so, they need staff to be both present and productive. As such, employee retention, health and motivation should be treated as factors in commercial success. However, these factors do not exist in isolation, and statistics show the workplace itself has a large influence on them.

The Office & Wellbeing

For many workers in the UK’s increasingly knowledge-based economy, the office itself is synonymous with working life. Monday to Friday, we spend over 45% of our waking hours there.* We may think of the office as simply the place we go to earn a living. However, our workplaces have a much greater influence on us than we may imagine. The World Green Building Council (WGBC) states ‘research clearly demonstrates that the design of an office has a material impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants’. This claim is backed with powerful statistics in its 2014 report, ‘Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices’:

  • 66% drop in performance when exposed to distracting noise
  • 46 minutes more sleep per night for office workers with a window
  • 35% less short term sick leave in offices with airflow from outdoors
  • 11% gains in productivity associated with improved air quality
  • 10% reduction in performance associated with temperature extremes (15°C and 30°C)

The report describes productivity as ‘business-oriented outputs’. Imagine the above figures relate to the volume of deadlines hit or targets met; this gives the office environment huge sway over business performance. Construction industry news company Building Design comments: ‘It’s easy to see the impact that even a slight drop in absentee rates or employee turnover could have on profits.’ It is no surprise WGBC’s report concludes ‘Those companies who take seriously their employee health, wellbeing and productivity, will prosper’.

Industry Reactions

In light of this evidence, interior designers and architects have acknowledged a shift in the industry. Elina Grigoriou of sustainable design firm Grigoriou Interiors has observed a change in perception: “people are beginning to realise that interior design is not just about having a bit of fun with colour”. Meanwhile, Jenny Ruegamer, Design Director of global architecture firm Interior Architects, acknowledges wellbeing is now a central focus: “As designers it’s our job – whether through lighting, hydration stations, or effective colour psychology – to design offices that keep workers free from stress and exhaustion”. This shift is acknowledged by the public benefit corporation The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI) which exists to ‘improve human health and well-being through the built environment’. According to IWBI, professionals across the design and development industry ‘expect health to have a higher influence on design and construction decisions over the next two years’.

To help organisations measure how successfully they have addressed health and wellbeing within their projects, IWBI has developed its own certification: the WELL Building Standard. IWBI describes WELL as ‘an evidence-based system [for] measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being’. The certification addresses how projects handle a variety of people-centred themes including: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and the mind. To date almost 200 projects have already been registered or certified with the standard – evidence of the mounting enthusiasm for workplaces that support wellbeing.

Optimising Your Office

The UK Green Buildings Council states ‘buildings are fundamentally for people’. Although we may see our offices as an emblem of business, they are simply where business happens – where we work. To perform at our full potential, the office needs to cater for our needs.

At InteriorsTeam, our experts have experience developing interiors solutions within a variety of settings to support a host of different working styles and occupations. Contact one of our Specialists today to discuss how your workplace can be optimised to encourage improved productivity.

*Based on a 7.5 hour working day and an average of 7-8 hours sleep.




1 Comment

  1. vicky peat says:

    Having a healthy office is important, and with new trends and office design being implemented it’s more accessible to make this happen. Noise can be a morale driver, so acoustic office screens can be rather effective.

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