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Report links office design to employee wellbeing and productivity

A major new report from the World Green Building Council has revealed there is “overwhelming evidence” which demonstrates the design of an office significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its staff.

The Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building report, sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska, has found that a range of building design features from air quality and daylighting, to views of nature and interior layout, can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers.

For the first time, the report also presents a simple toolkit which businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff and relate this back to the physical features of buildings. Measures includes absenteeism, staff turnover, medical complaints and revenue – data which is already collected but not typically available on a building-by-building basis.

Understanding the link between workers and their workplace helps to drive the business case for higher quality, healthier and greener buildings, valued by investors, developers and tenants alike. With salaries and benefits typically responsible for 90 per cent of an organisation’s expenditure, any higher construction or occupation costs are far outweighed by even small improvements in staff performance.

The report suggests that design features which are commonly associated with green buildings can enable healthy and productive environments for their occupants, but acknowledges that low carbon buildings are not automatically healthier and more productive for occupants. Further innovations in product technologies and renewables are needed, particularly to enable low carbon cooling in hot and humid climates.

Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said:

“The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of staff is now overwhelming. There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings.

 “This is something that office occupiers can demonstrate for themselves. Most businesses are already sitting on a treasure trove of information that may yield immediate improvement strategies for their two biggest expenses – people and buildings. Understanding the relationship between the two can help businesses achieve significant competitive advantage.”

Claudia Hamm, head of workplace strategy (EMEA) at JLL, said:

“Major corporate clients are now recognising the business benefits and productivity gains of buildings which bring out the best in their employees and are increasingly making their strategic real estate decisions with these in mind. This report reinforces the view that a building’s impact on its occupants must be included within financial considerations.”

Geoff Dutaillis, group head of sustainability at Lend Lease, said:

“Whatever business you are in, you are in the business of people. How a building ‘works for people’ should be the priority question. This report provides further evidence that workplaces with clean air, natural daylight and engaging and adaptable layouts all contribute to making healthier, happier and more motivated individuals who create stronger, more resilient and profitable companies.”

Staffan Haglind, green business officer at Skanska, said:

“The equation for our clients is very simple: a small percentage improvement in the health and productivity of your staff far outweighs any additional costs associated with commissioning or occupying a greener, healthier office. Giving employees the best possible conditions to perform and stay healthy is not only wise from a financial perspective, it’s just the right thing to do.”

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