Health benefits of working in a WELL building

Because of the pandemic, employers and employees alike are now more discriminating when it comes to choosing their physical workspaces. More people are interested in spaces that can help ensure the occupants’ overall health, security, and productivity.

But even before the pandemic, statistics have already shown high levels of work-related stress and illnesses for workers globally. People were, however, hesitant about the possibility and benefits of net-zero and sustainable buildings. Today, there is no other way to build except to keep people’s health at the forefront of design decision-making.

The increasing demand for healthy workplaces is leading more investors and developers to construct buildings that meet international standards. One such standard is the WELL Building Standard.

The WELL Building Standard is an international rating system that advances health and wellbeing in buildings by measuring how human wellness is integrated into the structure. WELL has more than 100 internationally recognized criteria backed by the latest scientific research to provide guidance in charting a roadmap to achieving a healthy workspace. The criteria span across 10 concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community.

Cost and benefits of building a healthy structure

To build a healthy building, one needs to add about 3% to 5% to the construction cost. Unfortunately, some people think this amount is too costly. Experts are unanimous in saying that the additional investment is worth it.

It is a more meaningful expense because the money is invested in people, in more efficient energy consumption, and in a more sustainable future. Furthermore, the additional cost can be recouped in over five years through savings on energy and water consumption, while enjoying good quality indoor air, water, natural sunlight, and so on.

Studies have likewise shown that wellness workplaces can bring increased productivity, reduced medical expenses, better talent attraction, a higher level of employee engagement and satisfaction, and a more positive corporate culture.

JLL Philippines’ well certification journey

A recent survey done by the real estate services and consultancy firm JLL Philippines shows that 70% of occupiers across the Asia Pacific are willing to pay a premium to be in a healthy building. JLL Philippines itself went through the certification process and has recently achieved a WELL pre-certification for its head office at the NEX Tower in Makati.

“The pandemic has magnified the need for a workspace that puts people at the center of workplace design to help them feel secure, productive, and well taken care of,” said Christophe Vicic, JLL Philippines’ Country Head.

To secure pre-certification, JLL Philippines ensured that WELL building standards are in place in the head office, such as free seating to allow employees to choose to sit at their preferred thermal zones; a spacious cafe that can house at least 25% of the total staff for social activities; maximized access to daylight, views, and connectivity to nature; height-adjustable tables, monitor arms and ergonomic chairs to ensure comfort and flexibility for employees; a mother’s room to help working moms have an easy transition returning to work; and intricate acoustic treatments to add more dimension and provide a serene environment with speech enhancement.

Moreover, drinking water is regularly tested against WELL requirements to make sure the water is safe and of high quality. Dedicated exhausts and self-closing doors for all copy rooms and pantries are also in place.

“JLL Philippines has maintained that the office will stay relevant in the Future of Work,” said Calum Swinnerton, JLL Philippines’ Head of Project and Development Services. He continued, “Employees themselves express the need for a minimum of three days per week of working in the office to feel engaged, empowered, and fulfilled. By encouraging more investors and developers to build healthier structures, we also build more confidence in employees to return to the office.”