Is your physical workplace healthy?

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According to a recent survey by global real estate giant CBRE, roughly 30% of firms in the Asia Pacific region currently run wellness programmes for their employees, with another 30% indicating a strong desire to introduce one in the near future.

Rather than rely on a series of standalone initiatives, however, CBRE suggests a more holistic approach – building wellness into your workplace’s blueprints.

“While people have a longer life expectancy, people are generally less healthy with insufficient exercise and more obesity issues, which may affect staff performance and engagement at work,” said Ada Choi, director of research at CBRE Asia Pacific.

“As a result, companies are taking into consideration wellness features in a property’s design and performance in order to attract and retain the best talent, and create a more productive and engaged workforce,” she said.

The holistic approach CBRE suggests involves implementing measures related to the physical environment (choice of work settings, exercise opportunities), as well as policy and culture (flexible working, employee engagement). These are in addition to providing more traditional health services such as private healthcare and health screening.

“For businesses, employees are a valuable asset; investing in them and helping to improve their wellbeing are indispensable,” said Craig Hudleston, executive managing director of CBRE Asia Pacific. “Embracing a longer-term strategy of workplace wellness can drive fundamental change and have a lasting impact on the bottom line.”

To this end, firms are looking to the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and their WELL Building Standard for guidelines on how to achieve today’s standards of employee health-conscious design.

Launched in 2014, the WELL Building Standard is the first certification designed with a specific focus on how a physical space impacts the health and wellbeing of its occupants. The certification process measures impact on occupant health in seven categories: Air, Water, Light Comfort, Fitness, Nourishment, and Mind.

A major challenge to qualifying for the WELL Building Standard in Asia Pacific is mitigating air pollution, especially in China and India. Other focus areas involved in qualifying for the WELL Building Standard include facilities that promote healthy eating and proper nutrition, as well as regular inspections of overall building performance.

As of July 2017, a total of 146 projects in Asia Pacific had registered for the Well Building Standard, with two-thirds located in China, primarily in Beijing and Shanghai. Australia is the second largest market, with most projects registered in Sydney and Melbourne.

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