The future's bright
As people spend more than 90% of their time inside the artificial environments of vehicles and buildings and a high % of that 90% in the work place (https://www.multicomfort.co.uk/media/1163/saint-gobain-research-home-health-and-wellbeing-report-2016-full-report.pdf), there is a growing movement to build and create 'healthy' buildings.
So what is an unhealthy building I hear you ask?
The American Public Health Association notes that indoor environmental quality (IEQ) can negatively affect occupants' physical health such as increasing asthma and respiratory diseases because of poor air quality, extreme temperatures, excess humidity, and insufficient ventilation (https://www.usgbc.org/articles/healthy-buildings-and-healthy-people-next-generation-green-building). This will negatively impact employee health, well-being, and also productivity.
Studies into building health and efficiency have shown that improved ventilation can boost productivity of workers by 11% while better lighting can spark a whopping 23% jump in efficiencies (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/05/cover-healthy-buildings.aspx)
Improving the level of daylighting in workspaces also has some interesting ideas as to how you could improve natural light and even try to mimic it, by using both intelligent glazing and lighting systems.
The article, The impact of artificial light in buildings on health and well-being drew this conclusion on the future of lighting within future builds.
1 Natural Light - You can't beat natural light, so new building should utilise it where they can
2 Quality of Light - Lighting needs to be of paramount importance and cost cutting needs to stop.
3 Culture change - A culture change in the way we view light may be adopted, with 'light breaks' and even working outside being encouraged in the work place
If you clicked the links above you will see that just by simply improving light and ventilation in the work place, you could see a marked difference in employees cognitive skills, productivity and overall well-being.
The future is bright (sorry that was a poor attempt at a joke).
It seems evident that even small changes can have a large impact on a business.
This is great as we are starting to focus on the health aspects of these buildings rather than just the design and look, but does it have the same impact on everyone? What if we are putting unhealthy guys into a healthy building?
These studies don't state if the participants were healthy, how active were they, or if they ate well?
Would we see the same % improvements in productivity in these guys or can the potential benefits increase even higher if we can put healthy guys into a heathy building?
It would seem pretty plausible to say that a healthy person going into a healthy building, is going to potentially see even higher benefits than someone who is unhealthy.
But the research in this subject is so limited, that I struggled to find hardly anything between the relationship of healthy people and healthy buildings, so this is something I will be looking into a little closer going forward.
It may seem obvious to you as you read this (or at least it does as i write it) that if we can increase productivity and efficiency through better ventilation and lighting, then improving someones health to increase these measures of performance is a no brainer?
So why isn't this more commonly spoke about and shouted from the rooftops in the corporate world?
As we all know that a guaranteed way to improve someones health is to EXERCISE. That's a given.
But to understand that the office environment that you put your staff in could also play a massive role in your businesses success, it's morale, efficiency and productivity; that's a culture change that early adopters are already taking advantage of (https://www.springbuk.com/our-insights/employer-guide-wearables-2017).
I have seen these improvements first hand inside the companies that I work with and have seen a culture change with these companies in their approach to their employees health and well-being.
The introduction of Fitbits for all employees that wanted them, to encourage movement and to be active has been just one of the strategies we have used to encourage a healthy office culture.
Wearable technology is going to be huge in the corporate wellness world and is going to be a key factor in helping companies adopt a positive culture change from the top to the bottom.
We are still playing catch up to the U.S in the U.K. But we are getting there and i'm very proud to be a part of it.