How Property Improvements And Staff Well-Being Can Impact Businesses

Jason Ratcliffe, MSc, BA (hons), AssocRICS / Director of Steren Surveyors.

Alarmingly, a significant amount of existing and new properties within the U.K. do not meet adequate standards for habitation nor meet the requirements for minimal well-being standards. These issues also exist, though remain more under the radar, in the commercial property sector.

Poor internal environment quality and well-being considerations have been shown to increase the risk of illness, cancers, fatigue, asthma and respiratory problems, along with mental health issues and many other health conditions, such as increased ADHD and autism symptoms. In office settings, this problem can also increase the risk of staff becoming run down, burnt out, less productive and taking more time off sick.

Due to the potential negative financial and well-being impacts, it is crucial to incorporate property and staff well-being best practices into business plans and day-to-day operations.

Becoming A Well-Being Advocate

In my experience, strong staff well-being can improve the atmosphere within the office. This also impacts clients who are more likely to work with your business if they see positive and helpful team members.

However, this is easier said than achieved, especially as running a business can be time-consuming enough. Because of this, it’s important to consider starting with small changes to assess office well-being and to encourage time away from the desk, such as arranging a monthly breakfast or non-work-related social event. Events like these, in particular, can help to see how your staff are feeling and handling workloads.

In addition, encourage lunch breaks to be taken outdoors, such as going for a walk in a local park. This helps reset internal stress levels and can increase energy levels to help refocus for the last push until the end of the day.

Once the simple steps are in place, further improvement can be considered, such as offering discounted gym memberships to encourage a more active lifestyle or offering free counseling sessions if a member of staff requires extra support. These supports can be especially helpful if something is going on in their personal life that may also be affecting their work.

Making Positive Change

In addition to providing immediate support to staff, auditing the working environment is crucial. This can be as simple as ensuring the environment is clean, clutter-free and regularly checked for health hazards such as trip-and-slip risks.

In my experience, office environments can also become overheated very quickly, especially with a high number of computer systems running. This should not be swept under the carpet and left for someone to bring in a cheap desktop fan. Ensuring that adequate natural and mechanical airflow is maintained can significantly improve internal comfort levels as this will circulate air, which can also prevent temperature disbalances, pollutants or toxins from building up to potentially harmful levels.

Likewise, ensuring that natural lighting is available can prevent reduced energy and fatigue. If this is not possible, it is important to ensure there is adequate lighting in place.

Support Available For Improving Staff Well-Being

There is, of course, a great deal more that can be done to improve the premises and staff’s well-being. One thing to consider, for example, is working with an independent expert to evaluate your office.

There are also some certifications available such as WELL and the Property Well-Being Certificate that can demonstrate that your office meets the appropriate standards. These are only examples and in no way the only options available. Each well-being certification has its own merits, and it is important to research what is right for you and your business. However, the common factors covered include construction concerns such as overheating, comfort levels, air quality, rest areas and positive support for physical activities like gym facilities.

Finally, it’s also important to support staff with well-being policies such as holiday availability, mental support and flexible working hours, among other policies. This is not a comprehensive list but should give an idea of the certifications and policies available for your business.

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