• LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Youtube

Embracing wellbeing in our workplaces

“Wellbeing”, for such a personal topic, is surprisingly difficult to ignore in the corporate real estate world. Your wellbeing; how happy you feel, whether you get enough sleep, how much exercise you can cram in to your day, whether you eat well and a host of other quite frankly personal factors, are all of interest to your employer. And here’s why.


In 2016 the World Green Building Council produced a report called ‘Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices’.  It was the first report with global reach to link better workplace environments with your health, and your health to your productivity and business profit. It had an impact…

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the market for wellness advice (valued at £94 billion in 2017), is predicted to grow to £127 billion by 2022.  The UK Real Estate industry is large part of this, with a current market value of around £6.4 billion and growing.

At WSP, we’ve been involved in the wellbeing movement from before it had a name, and we appointed our first Health and Wellbeing Manager last year. A major consideration for us is how the buildings we occupy support the health, wellbeing, and happiness of our staff. It’s a topic that requires input from multiple disciplines (such as air quality, daylighting, acoustics, and biodiversity to name a few) suiting our business well.  However, we now have an opportunity to bring our expertise to bear on a number of significant changes in our UK offices. 

There are many ways to improve the environmental quality of a building’s interior and different strategies are applicable to different contexts. For example, a rolling maintenance programme of an occupied office can be both a constraint and an opportunity. A constraint because major refurbishments occur upward of every 15 (but more likely, due to rental income disruption, every 25 to 30) years on average, whereas less major upgrades happen more frequently. Therefore solutions must align with these constraints and make the most of the opportunity.

Within WSP we’re coming up to a milestone in our estate strategy with a number of major office consolidations happening this year. Principally, we are consolidating three existing offices in Manchester into one new office, and the same is happening in Birmingham. 

This is an opportunity we’re embracing. 

To drive wellbeing and benefit from a healthy, productive and happy workforce, we’re seeking Fitwel certification.  As global Fitwel Champions (early adopters) this makes sense, and it is proportionate to what we’re trying to achieve.   Also, where you have multiple assets, like we do, the benchmarking tool is valuable in making comparisons and tracking performance. 

To add rigour to our assessments and gain insights from our staff, we’ll be undertaking occupancy surveys for each existing office and we will then do the same in the new ones. We’re delivery partners of the BUS methodology which allows performance benchmarking against 100’s of other buildings and is approved for use alongside the WELL building standard.  We find it provides a wealth of useful and insightful data when making make decisions on what matters most to the people that matter most. Occupant surveys are useful in a number of contexts, one excellent way is to use them before and after an intervention, as we will for office moves in Manchester and Birmingham.

These projects also represent a great testbed for our “Healthy Building Toolkit” which is due to be launched in a matter of weeks.

Exciting times for wellbeing within WSP. 

This blog was written by Harry Knibb, Principal Consultant, Sustainable Places