Healthy Buildings Make for Healthy People

16th November 2020

Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace (in any place) Is No Longer Optional

Two thousand and twenty one is going to be the year of wellness. Actually, it’s going to be the year of the ox, but we can be pretty bull-headed.

In reality though, this idea shouldn’t take much convincing. Simply consider those face mask tan lines and that new perfume a la hand sanitiser. Workplace wellness went from being that acquaintance we sort of knew, to being the one we seek out at parties and awkwardly try to hold hands with (latex-clad hands, of course).

Pandemics, Bushfires, Mouth-Breathers...

Health and wellbeing in the workplace was already a topic (pre-covid) on many an Australian’s tongue with the last bushfire season. Remember, the one that just wouldn’t quit? Airborne particles, VOCs, particulate matter, PM2.5 filters—these are all terms we became acquainted with and probably would’ve been okay with never knowing.

And yet, we can go back even further, as the impact of the built environment on our health and wellness has been an area of study for decades. We spend an average of 90% of our lives indoors. So, it doesn’t take rocket science to know that the spaces we occupy are going to factor into our overall health and wellbeing.

Proper ventilation and air filtration (things we became cognizant of during bushfire season) are just a couple of the crucial components that make a workplace healthy. And not just workplaces either, but schools, hospitals, aged care facilities and so forth. Essentially any space we spend time in has an impact on our health and wellbeing, which is why certification programs like WELL and Green Star came into play.

Wellbeing and Workplace Performance

The research has been done—not by one university or one researcher, but by different institutions around the globe—and the results are staggering. (Really, you might miss a step.) Building health plays a much larger role in our health and wellbeing (and productivity) than the occasional momentary tickle to the back of the throat that we once thought.

By the numbers, healthy buildings lead to:

  • One analysis of sick leave data for more than 3,000 workers across 40 buildings found that 57% of all sick leave was attributable to poor ventilation
  • Another study found that office workers scored 5.4% higher on cognitive function tests when they were in a thermally acceptable environment, compared to colleagues who were not. 
  • And researchers discovered that every time you double the rate of outdoor air delivered into an office, worker performance improves by 1.7%.

Building health matters. Don’t take our word for it (though you definitely should), don’t even consider the credibility of all this research (though that’s a bit silly), go to the masses. You can check this article from Harvard Business Review about what makes a building healthy. And another about healthy building design from CNBC. Or this one about ventilation from The Atlantic. Then there’s the one from Forbes about office impacts on employee wellbeing.

The math is in, and 2020 brought that nugget home more than ever. Employee health and wellbeing isn’t only a matter of being a good person and taking care of your team, but it’s also a new competitive metric that new hires are going to be considering. Wellness isn’t just for backroom discussions and hippies anymore. It’s part of our new normal, and one you ignore at your own peril. (Like tossed in a volcano to scream a bloody death peril.)

How To Improve Wellbeing in the Workplace

The question becomes, now that we’re aware of how important health and wellbeing in the workplace is, how do we fix it? It seems like there are a lot of moving, convoluted parts in this wellness game. It almost makes us wish for an all-in-one tool, hey? One that was designed considering the wellness research? And maybe even took into account the various certification programs available? Yeah, that’d be nice. If only one existed… *heavy sigh*

Yes, obviously we have something up our sleeve. The Brightgreen Wellness System hits all the wellness (and cost-effective) notes. And it’s hitting the market next week. Tune in then for the details, and to have your space considered to be one of the 10 wellness projects we’re starting with.

Or jump the gun and get on the early list. Sign up to have your project considered now. Email hello@brightgreen.com for early consideration.