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Wellbeing in the office environment

Real estate investors and their occupiers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that health and wellbeing is having, and consequently the service that property managers are now expected to provide. Effective property management is no longer solely concerned with looking after the physical asset, but to provide environments to enhance the users’ overall experience.

Measuring Health & Wellbeing

This growing trend is also reflected in the emergence of health & wellbeing certifications such as The Fitwel Certification System and The Well Standard. Due to its grounding in rigorous scientific research and its user-friendly approach to certification, Fitwel has emerged as the entry-level standard for assessing health and wellbeing in buildings. Our Sustainability and Wellbeing Manager, Nick Hobbs, has recently become a Fitwel Ambassador.

The Well Standard is perceived as a more in-depth, rigorous certification system but comes with a higher cost. It also requires more resource to successfully measure and implement. Choosing the appropriate system for the appropriate building is crucial and through our knowledge of each offering we can provide advice on which to use; how, when and where.

Beyond this, we are also actively engaged with each certification to help shape their development where necessary. For example, their adaptation of the systems in order to be more applicable to multi-tenanted offices.

Future Trends

Going forward, we see two fundamental developments continuing to emerge in health and wellbeing:

Firstly, the context in which health and wellbeing is developed will continue to grow. Initially, many of the best initiatives have been implemented on larger campus-style assets where the amount of public realm and external space provides greater opportunity. Birmingham Business Park is one example which now boasts a wide array of fitness activities ranging from open-air gym equipment, a cycling club, a walking club, yoga, table tennis, woodland walks and pool bikes, all possible to the vast amount of shared space available. We have, however, also had great success in implementing other health and wellbeing initiatives in smaller urban office buildings, from; food and drink pop-ups, guest speakers, bike services and charity and community events.

Secondly, whilst the various accreditation systems will continue to gather pace, the individual criteria that make up the certification will become more relevant and measured too. For example, we are already working with suppliers such as StepJockey at the Metro Building in Hammersmith. StepJockey incentivises occupiers to use the stairs and by using design solutions, competitions and communication programmes to promote this. In addition, we are investigating other specific standards. RESET focuses on measuring and certifying the internal air quality within a building using sensors to produce large amounts of data. Meanwhile, CyclingScore is an increasingly used assessment for evaluating the quality of cycling facilities within a building – so often a critical factor in urban locations.

There are many areas to consider and a number of approaches to take in implementing health and wellbeing programmes at multi-let office assets. Our strategy at Welcome is to assess the client’s objectives within the context of the building itself but also within the wider property portfolio. This will then inform the decision-making process of what initiatives are best to pursue.

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