Companies Adopting Wellness Programs, WELL Building Standard to Advance Health and Wellbeing for Occupants
Hong Kong, September 7, 2017 – Health and wellness factors are increasingly influencing real estate decisions across Asia Pacific. According to CBRE, more companies across Asia Pacific are now investing in physical infrastructure and wellness programs to enhance their employees’ health and wellbeing as demographic, social and technological developments continue to change the workplace regionally.
“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. 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,” said Ada Choi, Director of Research, CBRE Asia Pacific.
According to a recent CBRE survey1, around 30% of occupiers in the region currently run wellness programs, while a further 30% indicated a strong desire to introduce one in the near future. The findings reinforce CBRE’s 2016 Millenials Survey, which revealed that wellness facilities such as gyms are influential factors in attracting and retaining millennial talent.
CBRE advises companies interested in workplace wellness programs to adopt a holistic approach, rather than a series of standalone initiatives. A holistic approach involves implementing measures related to the physical environment (choice of work settings, exercise opportunities), policy and culture (flexible working, employee engagement), in addition to providing the usual health services (private healthcare, health screening).
“For businesses, employees are a valuable asset; investing in them, and helping to improve their wellbeing is indispensable. Embracing a longer-term strategy of workplace wellness can drive fundamental change and have a lasting impact on the bottom line,” said Craig Hudleston, Executive Managing Director, Asset Services, CBRE Asia Pacific.
With companies now adopting healthier buildings for better performance, some are considering registering for the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) WELL Building Standard™. 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.
Launched in 2014, the WELL Building Standard is the first certification designed with a specific focus on how the built space impacts the health and wellbeing of its occupants. Nearly 500 projects are registered globally with three projects certified in Asia Pacific. Landlords and occupiers are major drivers of the certification, which measures the attributes impacting 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. In Australia, air quality is far less of a concern. Elsewhere, in Japan and South Korea, workplace stress is more of a concern than in other markets.
Other challenges to adopting the WELL Building Standard include:
Committing to maintaining the building’s performance: WELL buildings are required to continually maintain their performance. Certified projects are required to thoroughly and regularly document aspects of building performance, such as air and water quality, as they must be re-certified after three years.
Providing healthy food to employees: A key feature of WELL is nutrition and encouraging healthy eating habits. The WELL Building Standard contains specific nutritional requirements related to food for regular consumption.
Companies in Asia Pacific are advised to carefully consider whether they would want to adopt basic short-term measures to improve workplace wellness or embrace a longer-term strategy. They must understand the different needs and priorities of their employees across the region and accept the fact that challenges in workplace design and cultural expectations can be more severe in some markets than others. For those wishing to pursue WELL certification should commit to achieving the standard as early as possible in the building design process.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2016 revenue). The company has more than 75,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate investors and occupiers through approximately 450 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide. CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.