It is moving away from being a cost to an investment, and is now a highly relevant discussion topic. Valued at approximately USD$3.7 trillion, the industry, which encompasses general wellness, workplace wellness, and wellness in lifestyle real estate (GWI, 2017), presents not only a move in the right direction for human health, but a huge economic opportunity.

Wellness is no longer the premise of a few forward-thinking tech companies, nor just a buzzword. Increasingly, people are focusing on their individual wellness by tracking their own health, and taking note of the environments they live and work in as lifestyle factors they can control. From choosing which company to work for – depending on the office environment and work­place policies, to the type of home to buy and hotel to stay in.

Wellness is wide-ranging – affecting almost every area of our lives, and therefore our environments. As such, it is essential for developers, investors, and occupiers to start looking into wellness, and addressing people’s expectations.

How is Colliers getting involved in the wellness movement?

Colliers is putting people at the core of real estate. We work with the most valuable and expensive asset a company has – their people. Working closely with our clients to understand the needs and challenges of their business, and develop strategies to support their goals and outcomes. For us, Wellness is a key part of this conversation, as it has the potential to help with one of their greatest challenges – finding the right talent.

As 90% of our time is spent indoors, designing and operating workplaces and buildings to support people’s wellbeing makes business sense. Even more so when one considers that 90% of operating costs are typically attributed to people. As such, businesses cannot afford to ignore the opportunity to address wellness in the built environment. Even a small improvement in employee wellness can have a huge impact on productivity, and therefore have positive financial implication for employers. It is about engagement, about businesses having customer-like mindsets that will transform internal business processes.

As the boundaries between work and life continue to blur, employees expect their workplace not to be a source of stress, but rather view the workplace as a destination designed to enhance their quality of life. Employers seeking to set themselves apart recognize that this cannot be a stand-alone initiative. Indeed, space, amenities, policies, and programs all contribute to a culture of well-being.

Moving towards a comprehensive and holistic approach

Many companies have had some type of ‘corporate wellness’ for years. However, traditional wellness programmes historically have limited uptake and low levels of engagement. Consequently, they are being left behind. In their place, we are seeing strategic decisions being made to incorporate health and wellness into the very fabric of the business and the workplace itself.

Approaches to well-being are now more holistic and comprehensive, bringing workplace solutions that address the design and configurations of the office space through to daily operations of an organization and behaviour of its occupants. In recent years certification systems offering a framework for this approach have emerged, some leading examples include: Fitwel, Total Worker Health®, and The WELL Building Standard™ which separates wellness into seven concepts; Air, Water, Light, Fitness, Comfort, Nourishment, and Mind.

Introducing our wellness expert: Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert recently joined the Colliers International team to head up and pioneer our move into Wellness, an area that we feel is going to be the future of the workplace. She is an experienced sustainability professional with extensive international consulting experience focused on integrating wellness and sustainability principles into corporate strategy and building design. Victoria has worked with a range of multinational companies creating sustainable strategies to underpin their business goals, and provided wellness consulting to over 25 projects in the region, including the first WELL Certified space in Asia.

Having spent the last five years living in China and Hong Kong, noticing the ever-increasing challenges of air pollution in the region and the huge implications for human health, Victoria noticed an emerging opportunity in the sustainability field, often talked about but not yet addressed in China; that of ‘human sustainability’.

Victoria has a thorough understanding of building and design, and has established the WELL faculty in Asia. She continues to play an active role in the global wellness community, leading and participating in events and knowledge sharing forums.