Wellness Management or Facilities Management?

BIFM has reported that “80% of employees agree that a company’s wellness offering will be crucial in recruiting and retaining them within the next 10 years”.

Employees spend a significant amount of time in the workplace which has brought growing attention towards internal building environments and has developed what current and future tenants will be looking for. Wellness is no longer a HR issue, the focus of corporate wellness is shifting towards the actual building’s employees spend most of their time in, moving the responsibility to Facilities and Building Managers.

Collaborative/co-working space is a growing trend for numerous reasons; millennials (the future workforce) are more attracted to an open environment, it allows companies to be more flexible with growth and it supports wellbeing. Open, collaborative environments encourage interactions, offers the opportunity for landlords to get creative with the interior, flexible lease agreements (maximizing on space) and allows more daylight to penetrate a space. However, noise control is another factor which impacts performance as excessive noise can cause stress and lower productivity. Some people prefer working in silence and need to have a cubicle or their own space to minimize distractions.

One size no longer ‘fits all’ and because of this, in order to meet everyone’s needs and ensure all employees can work effectively and feel comfortable, adaptable spaces can benefit an overall company’s performance. This means, the layout and the flexibility of the layout, needs to be considered and factored in by Facilities Managers when they are at the design stage, providing access to a room with a door and acoustical separation.

Natural elements within the workplace are proving to also significantly impact employee performance. lan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell, conducted a study which found workers in daylit office environments reported an 84% drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms, which can detract from productivity. Another big advantage is that it’s a natural source, reducing energy consumption and costs of heating, cooling, and lighting. Other natural elements such as plants and water features brighten an office environment and studies have shown can boost productivity by 15%.

Another factor is air quality. Facilities Managers need to ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning are checked and maintained regularly to ensure they are of a high quality. Cleaning equipment, carpet, and paint can all release gases or particles which can affect health. It is up to Facilities Managers to research, maintain and ensure all equipment is safe, which will significantly improve employee health and reduce sick days.

To reinforce the growing importance of wellbeing and to educate businesses, there are organisations which have been made to support, champion and improve a building’s wellness. WELL Building Institute (IWBI) delivers solutions to improve comfort, drive better choices and enhance health and wellness. Fitwell is a leading certification system that optimizes buildings to support occupant health. They work with companies to provide the latest results from their scientific research which has been proven to improve wellness in a property.

Facilities Managers are taking a holistic approach to the entire building experience. It is apparent that an employee’s wellness has a major impact on performance, if an individual can complete a given task but doesn’t have an environment that motivates and delivers opportunity, performance deteriorates.

The Facilities Management sector is heavily influencing employee wellness. A healthier worker is happier, more productive and more likely to stay with an employer, ultimately, giving Facilities Managers the opportunity to significantly impact a business’s bottom line.

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