WELL is the International wellbeing Institute which aims to create healthier built environments which advance human health and wellbeing. It’s a growing movement, established 6 years ago and now a widely recognised standard across the world. It’s been embraced widely in the US and is increasingly being incorporated into buildings across London and surrounding areas.
So what does ‘Well’ mean for architects, designers and developers? Martin from Well Workplaces, a ‘Well’ accredited professional, paid a visit to Alpha HQ this week to share his knowledge, as part of the launch of Alpha and Ten Eighty’s new look showroom in Belfast. Around 60 professionals attended the launch, keen to see how the standard could be incorporated into their own businesses and into client work.
Martin explained that we spend 90% of our time indoors, and that buildings have a profound effect on our health. Businesses and corporations are increasingly waking up to the fact that a healthier workplace means healthier employees, and healthier employees work more productively. 90% of the cost of most businesses comes from paying people salaries, so it makes sense to invest in employee wellbeing, and to find ways to help attract and retain the best staff.
Martin admitted that it’s a very challenging standard, but also said that the principles were worth applying, even if achieving the full standard wasn’t viable. It is described it as a ‘Comprehensive Approach to Wellbeing’ – covering ten main areas:
- Thermal Comfort
He gave examples of ways in which companies are making incremental changes, which together have a positive impact on wellbeing. For example, vegetables and salad can be displayed at the start of the line in the canteen queue, with smaller plates provided to discourage overeating – both helping to tackle the growing obesity crisis. He also pointed out that when it comes to noise, a little bit is useful, as total silence can actually negatively affect productivity, but if it becomes too loud it can cause a serious distraction. Thermal comfort can also be a major distraction – he advised creating some warmer and some cooler areas so staff can move about according to their personal preferences.
The benefits of a healthier workplace are multi-fold – employees are happier and healthier, employers experience increased productivity, and shareholders and executive boards will also be happy. It is designed to work in all types of buildings – from offices to schools, from hospitals to airports, and even apartment blocks. So, we can expect to see the standard across many walks of life. There is a clear benefit to developers too – as ‘Well’ spaces are easier to rent, stay occupied for longer, and increase the building’s value.
The ultimate aim of ‘Well’ is’ to create a positive human experience’. We are all working longer, so improving our working environments will benefit not only us but generations to come.
Thanks to Martin for a fascinating and insightful presentation – it certainly gave us all plenty to think about!
More information can be found at https://www.wellcertified.com/