The Business Case for the Right Conditions

Most businesses will tell you their people are at the heart of what they do. They represent a company’s culture, values and ambition. For those businesses to succeed, their people must be encouraged to develop and they must be looked after.

Yet despite a wealth of evidence showing the working environment can have a significant effect on productivity and cognitive function, many businesses still fail to prioritise staff wellbeing. Two new reports make a strong case for priorities to change, emphasising the impact working conditions can ultimately have on the bottom line.

361 Degrees believes people excel under the right conditions and the first report – produced by Imperial College London alongside engineering consultancy Atkins – shows just how much can be gained from putting occupiers’ needs at the centre of building design.

According to the research, new approaches in six key areas could boost workplace productivity by up to 8%, which would add as much as £20 billion to UK GDP.

The six areas are:

  • Air quality (improving ventilation and reducing carbon dioxide levels)
  • Thermal comfort (ensuring each member of staff can work in an optimal temperature range)
  • Lighting (providing natural light, or improving the quality of artificial light)
  • Noise (reducing the impact of noise created by roads as well as equipment such as air conditioning systems)
  • Interaction (granting control over the environment and workstation)
  • Visual elements (indoor plants and exterior views)

A Flexible Future

Another report by real estate agency Cushman & Wakefield, meanwhile, suggests the impact of looking after wellbeing is now too great to ignore. Businesses with highly satisfied, engaged employees report 37% lower absenteeism and 21% higher productivity.

Report author Sophy Moffat predicted the built environment will change as evidence for the return on investment in healthier workplaces mounts. “The rise of wellbeing in the commercial real estate industry is not a fad but a long-overdue acceptance that people are the largest cost and biggest contributor to the success of companies,” she said. “The design and building of workplaces must change to meet a flexible future.”

This view is certainly supported by the Top Employers Institute, which has observed an “enormous leap” in the number of British companies implementing wellbeing programmes over the last year. These businesses will not only see the benefits in terms of productivity and the bottom line, but their focus on staff health and a positive environment will also help them attract and retain the best talent on the market.

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