Let’s face it –  today’s workforce want and expect more from their workplace. That is why it is crucial for companies and landlords of commercial buildings to better understand wellness and implement strategies related to it. 

Having such strategies in place – which could include better ventilation, more natural lighting, having more potted plants indoors, and availability of adaptive spaces – has a positive knock-on effect not just on the bottomline but recruitment as well.

Speaking to ColliersREview, Wellness Consulting Lead for Asia Victoria Gilbert, said, “Wellness is becoming a key component of workplace strategy with corporates increasingly looking to design the best workplaces to enhance employee engagement and productivity, and developers aiming to attract higher calibre tenants and potentially lease more quickly and at higher rates.”

Many progressive organisations and developers have led the way in adopting The WELL Building Standard, since it was launched in 2014 by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). There are more than 200 WELL projects registered in Asia, according to IWBI’s website. Most of these are found in China, some certified developments included: Ocean International Centre in Zhejiang; Daimler Greater China headquarters in Beijing; and Haworth headquarters in Shanghai.

The WELL standards are designed to measure, certify and continuously monitor virtually every aspect of the built environment, particularly on how it impacts the health and wellbeing of its occupants.
Even as WELL gains traction in the region, the push for wellness in the workplace globally has shifted from a corporate social responsibility consideration to a strategic priority as more companies recognise the role it plays in driving business results.

A study by GSK Global Healthcare estimates that pain-related productivity losses cost companies across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines the equivalent of US$44.6 billion in 2016 – or 2.4% of the countries’ combined Gross Domestic Product. 

Sick days aside, healthier and happier employees are more likely to contribute actively to the firm’s growth as they are more engaged. The focus on wellness can also help to draw young talent to the company.

Ms. Gilbert added, “There have been lots of studies that showed that millennials want something different from their work environment, and one of the things is having an employer that cares (for) and values them, and addressing health and wellness does precisely that.”

Colliers’ latest wellness report highlighted several strategies that developers and occupiers can adopt to improve the wellness quotient at their office buildings. Among them, incorporating green or natural spaces to the building, installing advanced air quality monitoring and ventilation systems, adopting circadian lighting systems, providing exercise areas with lockers and shower amenities, and offering healthy menu choices in the staff cafeteria or dining facilities. 

Art works – such as paintings, murals and sculptures - can also add decorative accents to enliven interior spaces, creating a welcoming environment for visitors and providing a much-needed creative spark for those who work there. It is not uncommon for companies and hotels to lease art pieces to rejuvenate their work spaces and lobbies.   

A big advantage of having wellness initiatives factored into the built environment itself is that the employees just have to “turn up for work” in order to enjoy the benefits, unlike more traditional corporate wellness programmes which require more active staff participation, Ms. Gilbert noted. 

Workplace wellness is not just for the big boys; it can be customised to meet the needs and budget of smaller companies too. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing such strategies, and a qualified consultant can provide advice to help firms navigate the vast field of wellness.

Taken together, wellness is about making space work for its occupants, putting people at the core of space planning and building design. It is often said that people are a company’s greatest asset, there has never been a better time to show it.

Listen to MoneyFM983's podcast on 'Developers' new priority: workplace wellness'.