Many companies around the world are asking; how can we create a healthier more productive workplace for our staff? One of the key issues is how to create healthier building spaces. One system provides a comprehensive way for companies to address this and has shown tangible returns in employee performance. This system is the WELL building certification system.

The WELL Building system was created and launched by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in October 2014. WELL, unlike other green building systems, focuses on the health and well-being of the building occupants rather than improved energy performance or water savings. This allows builders to focus on design features that support and advance human health and wellness, even while they promote green building best practices. The latest version, WELL V2 has 10 categories focusing on health and wellness:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Movement
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Sound
  • Materials
  • Mind
  • Community.

What values does the WELL system bring to the property owner and corporate tenants? With long work hours in many parts of the world, time at the office consumes much of an employee’s hours during the week. An employer’s biggest expense is payroll. The IWBI website estimates that employers spend 92 percent of their annual operating costs on payroll. Every employer’s interest is to make the best out of the costly investment, and WELL is a proven system to help do so.

Healthy buildings have been shown to increase worker productivity. In a report from CBRE’s
The Snowball Effects of Healthy Offices, there are indicators of measured employee productivity in several was noted that having the right lighting improved employee productivity by 12%, providing meditation classes improved employee productivity by 30%, and having health nutrition on site improved productivity by 45%.¹ Healthy alternatives to sitting in standard office chairs such as standing or treadmill desks improved productivity by 12%. People exposed to biophilic “healthy spots,” with nature murals and plants perceived their work performance to be 10 percent better².

WELL certified buildings have been shown to reduce absenteeism and decrease turnover. In an article published by ULI entitled “The Business Case for Healthy Buildings” it was noted of 211 executives surveyed, 19 percent reported a decrease in absenteeism. Employees stay with companies longer also. This same survey noted 25 percent of these executives reported increased retention, and 47 percent reported increased employee engagement. In one CBRE Toronto office it was noted total employee turnover rate has fallen by almost a third, and the hiring rate for new talent has doubled³.

WELL certified buildings also have an impact to the investment value of a property. In this same ULI article several examples were shown of properties who received benefits from health and wellness certification. One Hollywood residential hotel saw 80 percent of their spaces leased six months after
opening, top-of-market rents. In a building housing biotech labs one company noted during the first year of operations there was a 22 percent increase in use of a career lab to a 153 percent increase in use of the health center by employees*4.

Studies such as this make a strong case for business owners and tenants to use systems such as WELL to help create healthier work spaces. A WELL-certified space is more attractive to building tenants, as well as employees. It also improves productivity and thus adds value for property owners. Companies who recognize the value of employees will see great value in the WELL certification system.

Reference 1, 2, 3, 4: The Business Case for Healthy Buildings – Insights from Early Adopters. © 2018 by the Urban Land Institute. URL: