Who? What? WELL!

WHO? WHAT? WELL!

With research showing Asia Pacific companies lose billions of dollars due to employee health issues each year, integrating wellness into the workplace has become a strategic priority for regional enterprises aiming to get the best from existing teams and to attract new talent. Fostering a healthy working environment is an intricate, multi-layered endeavour that requires attention to everything from building materials to desk layouts and fitness facilities, but new standards and technologies have emerged that promise to support firms on this journey.

This report examines the latest workplace wellness solutions and trends, looking at how organisations can harness these and overcome challenges to generate positive change. It explores the roles owners and occupiers can play in building better workplaces and the model projects emerging across the region, demonstrating that a holistic balance of people and technology can promote wellness in the office environment and ultimately, healthier societies.

How the intersection of people and technology can advance wellness in the workplace

As the impact of wellness on productivity and the bottom line becomes clear wellness has become a vital consideration for forward-thinking Asia Pacific enterprises. More developers and occupiers in the region are using leading international standards as benchmarks as they aim to create new model workplaces. Enabling and empowering technologies have emerged that can accelerate these efforts, but attention must also be paid to the human element in wellness initiatives as they run into, and leap over, challenges. There are questions about where wellness goes next but the outlook is positive, with technologies and standards set to develop further and both owners and occupiers responding to the increasing priority placed on health by the millennial workforce.

A vital consideration

Evidence that workplace health and environmental quality are closely linked to productivity levels and cognitive performance mean it is a factor that companies cannot afford to ignore. Yet as a vast field encompassing the mental, physical and built environment, wellness needs to be approached systematically, making the most of the growing pool of new enabling standards and technologies available.

“While technology has in many respects made work (and daily life) more sedentary, it is also giving rise to innovative solutions that can support the wellness transformation, and empower owners and occupiers to make rapid progress in their efforts to foster better working environments.”

"While it first took off in the United States, awareness and adoption (of the WELL Standard) in Asia Pacific is growing quickly, due in no small part to the very recent and real experiences with air pollution, water contamination, and other environmental issues that have accompanied the region’s rapid development."

The new model workplace

The focus on workplace wellness has helped fuel the development of global standards and pioneering projects that provide clear models for owners and occupiers to follow. The WELL Building Standard , the leading international benchmark, is based on comprehensive criteria that span the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the working environment, and is informing the development of more iconic projects in Asia Pacific.

Enabling, and empowering technologies

Innovative new solutions are enhancing the ability of owners and occupiers to integrate wellness into the office environment. Key examples include:

  • Air quality monitoring systems
  • Sustainable materials
  • Circadian lighting
  • Wearables and health apps
  • Online fitness communities and portals

"(New technologies) will ultimately contribute positively to business results by reducing the usage of utilities, as well as health or productivity-related losses."

“Technology is a great enabler, but firms should never lose sight of the fact that workplace wellness is about people at heart. It’s important to seek employee (or occupier) input and feedback on efforts to enhance workplace wellness to ensure changes or new facilities are chosen and designed with users in mind.”

Running into, and leaping over, challenges

As they experiment with new technologies and models in wellness programs, companies will inevitably encounter challenges, many of which will have to be addressed by changing mindsets as well as the built environment. These include demonstrating ROI on wellness-related investments, and obtaining both management and employee buy-in for health promotion initiatives.

Where wellness goes from here

The adoption of wellness-enhancing standards and technologies in regional commercial developments is set to rise as both owners and occupiers respond to growing demand from the workforce – particularly the millennial generation – to make employee health a priority.

“With better buildings coming online, related technologies growing more sophisticated and international standards taking root in developed and emerging markets alike, the outlook for the region is bright.”

THE WELL BUILDING STANDARD

air

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Air quality standards, smoking ban, effective ventilation, use of non-toxic/antimicrobial materials/surfaces

WATER

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Water quality and treatment, drinking water promotion

NOURISHMENT

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Quality/health properties of food sold or provided on the premises, presence of nutritional information, design of dining areas

LIGHT

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Access to natural light and windows, management of lighting brightness/intensity to support circadian rhythms

MOVEMENT

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Encouraging movement throughout the day and reducing sedentary behaviours - space layout, furniture types, fitness equipment, and physical activity incentives

THERMAL & COMFORT

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Quality/health properties of food sold or provided on the premises, presence of nutritional information, design of dining areas

MIND

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Increased support for mental health in the workplace - policy, programme and design strategies

SOUND

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Increase acoustical comfort - sound barriers, acoustic planning, noise reduction, sound masking

MATERIALS

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Limit use of hazardous building materials, promotion of healthy replacements

COMMUNITY

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Promotion of workplace healthcare, social equity, community engagement and accessibility

PIONEERING WELL PROJECTS IN ASIA PACIFIC

TOKYO | TECHNO-STATION

Certified: 2018, Developer-led

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Energy-saving, programmable lighting systems; thermal ‘buffer zones’ around windows to reduce air-conditioning use; standing desks

SHANGHAI | HAWORTH KERRY CENTER ORGANIC OFFICE AND SHOWROOM

Certified: 2016 Occupier-led

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Air duct filtration system; height-adjustable tables and ergonomic chairs; natural wood surfaces and greenery

SYDNEY | 200 GEORGE STREET

Certified: 2017, Developer-led

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Advanced fiber-optic pressure sensors to monitor air quality; 75% of workspaces located with 7.5 metres of a window; Dedicated wellness seminars and library; Over 1 plant per person

SINGAPORE | PAYA LEBAR QUARTER

Registered: 2017 Developer-led

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100,000 sq ft of public green space; showers, lockers and bicycle lots to promote activity; enhanced air filtration; floor to ceiling glazing

HONG KONG | CITI TOWER, ONE BAY EAST

Certified: 2018, Occupier-led

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Activity incentive programs; collaborative workspaces; food and beverage facilities with food preparation areas and nutritional information

Wellness is quickly becoming a forefront of Workplace Strategy.

Colliers’ Victoria Gilbert discusses how wellness is integral to a business’s bottom line and ability to attract and retain talent in a conversation with Mediacorp Pte Ltd 938NOW's podcast.

 

Why is it important for office developers and occupiers to implement wellness initiatives into the built environment?

Colliers' Victoria Gilbert shares more in a conversation with MONEY FM 89.3

 

“Wellness in the workplace is about looking at people as human beings – looking at what they need to thrive and survive, and be their most productive.”

More companies are embracing the mindset of incorporating wellness in their Workplace Strategy and design, especially to cater to millennials. Colliers’ Victoria Gilbert, together with Dom Fredrick Andaya, share with ABS-CBN Corporation’s Cathy Yang on how wellness design is becoming an intrinsic part of business strategy.

 

Victoria Gilbert @ ULI Asia Pacific Summit

Watch Victoria Gilbert lead a fast-paced PechaKucha Session at the 2018 ULI Asia Pacific Summit, honing in on how the intersection of people and smart technology can create wellness in the workplace.

 

KEY FINDINGS

  • The links between employee health, productivity and performance and the bottom line make wellness a strategic issue for businesses
  • More owners and occupiers are incorporating health and environmental standards into projects and planning, in developed and emerging markets alike
  • Advances in technologies such as air monitoring systems, building materials and wearable devices can provide a foundation for wellness-centred developments and effective employee health programs
  • While taking advantage of new technologies, developers and occupiers need to pay attention to the human element of wellness initiatives, ensuring they meet the needs of all stakeholders and are designed with end-users in mind
  • The high value millennials place on well-being means employers competing to attract and retain the best new talent will have to burnish their workplace wellness credentials
  • Both developers and occupiers have critical, and complimentary, roles to play in fostering healthier workplaces. Developers should factor wellness such as natural spaces into buildings in the design stage, while occupiers can take steps to encourage staff to make the most of wellness-related facilities

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