I became fascinated by the idea of how our immediate environment (so in the case of this article, we’re talking about home and office) is intrinsically linked to our wellbeing when I was lucky enough to meet one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject, Prabhat Kumar Poddar.
On a sunny day in leafy Chiswick I was invited to meet and watch Prabhat at work, surveying Dr Shomit Mitter’s house for energy deficiencies. According to several traditional beliefs, one of these being the Hindu system of Vaastu which Prabhat works with, each house has its own energy type. And once a person starts living in a house, he or she comes under the influence of that specific energy field. We’ve all walked into buildings and immediately felt something, from feeling relaxed to stifled to plain uncomfortable. So I was definitely 100% bought into this concept. And so too it seemed, was Shomit. The resulting stories on what had happened that day were astounding – even more so in the following days and weeks when Shomit really began to really see the results of Prabhat’s work. The benefits to his wellbeing were clear to see.
The same applies for an office, but then the resulting energies become far more complex to work out. And so it seems that we in the West have now cottoned on to this too. So much so that we’re beginning to create buildings with this in mind, right from the outset. As the world’s first ever ‘WELL Certified’ office has been built and by all accounts, it sets an awe-inspiring precedent when it comes to wellness in the workplace. Realising how much employees value company initiatives that provide them with a better quality of life, Delos, an LA based firm, has introduced a program which supports and reinforces overall well-being by creating a more optimal work environment. By focusing on employee health, performance and engagement, future WELL Certified offices include over 50 wellness amenities and address 23 health pathways to improve the quality of employee air, water, light, nutrition and comfort. Amenities include elements such as treadmill desks, stretching stations and visible forms of nature.
They work with organisations whose focus is to enrich their corporate culture and employee well-being by providing lifelong tools and knowledge for healthy living in an environment that fosters visibility and enforcement of this. The value is in creating an ideal atmosphere for learning, heightened focus, increased production, meaningful collaboration and greater office efficiency.
And who can argue with that?
So take note the next time you’re having an office refurb – you only need to take a look at the Google approach to the office environment to know what a huge impact our surroundings can have on us. Boosting productivity and overall wellbeing are advantages to the 21st century business model that we cannot afford to ignore.
If you’d like to understand the 7 concepts of the WELL Building Standard which have been implemented at CBRE in Los Angeles, here they are:
Poor air quality can cause both immediate health concerns such as allergies, the spread of viruses and fatigue as well as long-term issues including nervous system disorders, immune system disorders and asthma. To combat these concerns air filtration and ventilation systems were used to optimise respiratory health by reducing allergens, particulates, bioaerosols and toxins.
Hydration stations and signage prompting water breaks were introduced at various locations throughout the office in order to combat mild dehydration. It has been found that poor accessibility to water can inhibit employee water consumption, which can impact both the mental and physical quality of work.
Aside from prohibiting the sale of unhealthy foods with high sugar and fat content, wellness tips are streamed to employees as well as providing a library of health and wellness material.
Controllable lighting was implemented, so levels can be adjusted throughout the day. This can help improve comfort by reducing eyestrain, reduce glare by providing indirect lighting and using dynamic light levels to assist natural circadian rhythms.
Physical activity in the office environment was introduced through the form of dedicated spaces for fitness, treadmill desks and stretching stations. Additionally, the team implemented height-adjustable desks to stimulate employee movement and posture issues caused by the sedentary work environment.
Soft, flexible and ergonomic furniture was brought in to allow employees more movement and comfort. For acoustic comfort, Delos introduced sound dampening devices around doors, cork-in-floor substrate and soundproofing drywall.
Elements of nature such as greenery and art were introduced to evoke a sense of nature as studies have shown that surrounding people with visible elements of nature can have a profound impact on their health, lowering long-term stress and increasing productivity. Educational elements to stimulate and motivate action toward a healthy lifestyle for employees were also introduced.
See our workshops from Dr Shomit Mitter here.
Read more about Well Certified Offices here.