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November 2022

WELL Certification Brings Multiple, Powerful Worker Benefits

Bright modern office lobby with people

Creating healthy working conditions drives employee happiness and performance.

As seen in Globe St.

By Paul Bergeron

A new study in the Journal of Building and Environment found that WELL Certification “unequivocally” drives significant benefits across occupant satisfaction, perceived health, wellbeing and productivity.

“Its people-first approach, supports wide-ranging benefits for occupants and organizations alike, creating significant improvements in all-important areas of occupant satisfaction and health, well-being and productivity,” Rachel Hodgdon, President and CEO, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the creators of the WELL Building Standard, said in a prepared statement.

The peer-reviewed study, titled “Impact of WELL Certification on Occupant Satisfaction and Perceived Health, Well-being, and Productivity: A Multi Office Pre- Versus Post-Occupancy Evaluation,” is the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal research of its kind.

According to the study’s survey findings, WELL Certification showed a series of statistically significant occupant benefits, including:

  • A near 30% improvement in overall satisfaction with the workplace, which jumped from 42% to 70%.
  • A 26% overall increase in reported well-being scores.
  • A 10% increase in mental health and a 2% increase in physical health.
  • A 10-point jump in median productivity scores.

The research team analyzed the impact of WELL Certification using more than 1,300 pre- and post-occupancy survey responses from six companies in North America with analyses conducted at both the aggregate and company level.

Avison Young Opens Dallas’ First WELL Building

Greg Langston, Avison Young’s managing director and principal, tells GlobeSt.com that in early 2021, Avison Young’s Dallas office received WELL certification, marking the first WELL-certified office in the Dallas market.

“Avison Young had three goals for the office: to grow its Dallas team and expand its service lines; create a culture of teamwork and community; and to differentiate the company from other commercial real estate firms in the area.

“Achieving these goals meant departing from the traditional office layout and conceptualizing a more connected environment that fostered conversation and collaboration. To meet these expectations, the design features different settings for employees to choose from, and flexible working spaces to adapt to changing workstyles.”

Providing workers with access to natural daylight was essential for the Avison Young team, Langston said, as windows are traditionally reserved for private offices.

Its workstations incorporate sit-to-stand functionality highlighted by flooding natural daylight through expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. Its design team also included a corridor along the glazing from the reception area to the striking balcony with views of Klyde Warren Park.

The office is complete with a balcony furnished with lounge seating, dining and high seating, and a tuckaway niche with planters for those wanting to step outside during the workday.

“Air quality is especially important in making employees feel comfortable in the office and helpful in recruitment efforts,” Langston said. “Healthy snacks were easily adopted and have been greatly appreciated by the staff.

“Now more than ever we should be creating healthier spaces to improve physical and mental well-being as we all return to the office. The WELL certification is a badge we proudly wear to showcase our approach to wellness and the employee experience. Building better places for people is fundamentally aligned to Avison Young’s purpose to increase productivity at the office and create real economic, social and environmental value, powered by people.”

Peak Experiences are Key for a Hybrid Workforce

Peter Miscovich – JLL, executive managing director, global future of work leader, tells GlobeSt.com that the office must be viewed as an enabler for leading organizations who are launching hybrid workplace models – and as such, the office must provide a high-quality “peak experience” for the hybrid workforce.

“The next generation Hybrid workplace must be reimagined to meet evolving employee preferences and ever-changing workplace aspirations.

“Organizations must create ‘human-centric’ spaces that are welcoming and dynamic, and which promote employee health and wellbeing and that also meet corporate ESG goals.

“The most forward-thinking companies view their workplace as an important enterprise asset which is technology enabled to provide ‘peak human experiences’ for the Hybrid workforce enabling greater levels of human performance and “thriving work environments” for employees.

Feeling ‘Good About Where They Work’

Carrie Szarzynski, senior vice president – Midwest region, Hiffman National, who was instrumental in securing a WELL Health-Safety Rating for 15 office buildings under her management, equaling 3.5M SF of office space, tells GlobeSt.com, said she is not surprised by the results.

“The WELL Health-Safety Rating focuses on creating overall healthy buildings, which helps tenants feel good about where they work.

“It also affords a sense of confidence that the employer is taking every employee’s well-being seriously – and partnering with landlords and management companies that do the same. While achieving the WELL Health-Safety Rating was a high priority for many during the pandemic, it remains a key focus today, and we continue to see an increase in discussion around WELL Health-Safety and ESG issues.”

Ideal for Post-COVID Reopening

Jeff Sluzala, Director of Asset Management at Viking Partners, tells GlobeSt.com that the WELL Health-Safety Program fit the thesis already in practice at his property and was an important guide in preparing the building for re-entry in the wake of COVID-19.

“Since acquiring the asset in 2019, we always aimed to create an environment where employees wanted to come to work as evidenced by the new fitness center and health programs,” he said.

“Through the pandemic, we learned how important it is to create an environment where employees also feel safe coming to work. With the guidance of the WELL Health-Safety Program, we took steps to meet the highest of health and safety standards.

“In turn, the WELL Certification has given us a meaningful way to demonstrate our commitment to providing our tenants with best-in-class service. We know the designation brings our tenants a crucial sense of comfort and confidence.”

Bolsters a Strategy for Growth

Global law firm Shearman & Sterling is applying WELL at scale to their 25 offices globally, starting with the New York headquarters.

Arsha Cazazian-Clement, director of global real estate at Shearman & Sterling, tells GlobeSt.com that participating in WELL at scale showcases the commitment to contributing to a more sustainable environment, and to prioritizing people’s health and well-being.

“Our enterprise-wide adoption of WELL underscores the firm’s values and bolsters our strategy for growth moving forward,” Cazazian-Clement said. “This initiative reflects our unified commitment to accelerating the transition to sustainable practice and workplaces.”

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