“Overwhelming evidence” linking office design with staff health and productivity, finds World Green Building Council report

Press release 24/09/2014 08:00 CET

There is “overwhelming evidence” which demonstrates the design of an office significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its staff, according to a major new report from the World Green Building Council.

The report, Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building, finds that a range of building design features from air quality and daylighting, to views of nature and interior layout, can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers.

The report – sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska – also presents for the first time a simple toolkit which businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff and relate this back to the physical features of buildings. Measures includes absenteeism, staff turnover, medical complaints and revenue – data which is already collected but not typically available on a building-by-building basis.

Understanding the link between workers and their workplace helps to drive the business case for higher quality, healthier and greener buildings, valued by investors, developers and tenants alike. With salaries and benefits typically responsible for 90 per cent of an organisation’s expenditure, any higher construction or occupation costs are far outweighed by even small improvements in staff performance.

The report suggests that design features which are commonly associated with green buildings can enable healthy and productive environments for their occupants, but acknowledges that low carbon buildings are not automatically healthier and more productive for occupants. Further innovations in product technologies and renewables are needed, particularly to enable low carbon cooling in hot and humid climates.

Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of staff is now overwhelming. There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings.

“This is something that office occupiers can demonstrate for themselves. Most businesses are already sitting on a treasure trove of information that may yield immediate improvement strategies for their two biggest expenses – people and buildings. Understanding the relationship between the two can help businesses achieve significant competitive advantage.”

Staffan Haglind, Green Business Officer at Skanska, said: “The equation for our clients is very simple: a small percentage improvement in the health and productivity of your staff far outweighs any additional costs associated with commissioning or occupying a greener, healthier office. Giving employees the best possible conditions to perform and stay healthy is not only wise from a financial perspective, it’s just the right thing to do.”