A recipe for success

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temptation. Offer low sugar, low calorie snack bars and have a fruit bowl in the office – not just with apples, oranges and bananas but with exotic fruits which are more appetising.” Blueberries have been found to support long-term brain health and even help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s, Money says. They are low in calories and sugar and research has shown they have an acutely positive effect on cognitive function and memory. Slow burning or ‘complex’ carbohydrates like wholegrains, rice, pasta and quinoa are particularly good for health and to aid productivity, as are nuts, seeds and plain yoghurt, she adds. Keeping our adrenal glands healthy through diet should also be a focus. “Our adrenal glands release hormones like serotonin from the brain to help us cope with stress – a function of the nervous system,” explains Money, “but those glands can be less effective in a person with a poor diet.” She recommends cutting down on white carbs and sugar and eating more foods that are rich in omega 3, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D. “Eggs, chicken, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms, wholegrains, nuts and seeds are all good sources of B5 – or pantothentic acid – which supports the adrenal glands.” Doughty says growing awareness of healthy food boosting staff retention is now having an impact on workplace design – something both occupiers and developers are taking into consideration. “In London it costs around £100/sq ft to occupy a restaurant in an office building. That isn’t cost effective especially when they’re typically used for two-and-a-half hours a day,” he says. One solution, he suggests, is for

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Fast fact

Studies have shown that people who eat poorly are 20 % less productive in the workplace

“It’s cooler, edgier and more personal than the old staff canteen operation” an office café or restaurant to double up as an informal meeting zone. “The Bloomberg office has a restaurant called The Pantry which offers free food and drinks in a collaborative area. It creates social glue in the workplace and promotes the idea that people should get together in an informal setting to come up with ideas.”

‘Better than Starbucks’

JLL’s Warwick Street office is another example. It has a café called the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, which Doughty describes as “beautifully designed” and “better than going to Starbucks”. “People don’t leave the office quite so often as a result,” he says. “These concepts are cooler, edgier and much more personal than the historic staff canteen operation. Almost every office has too few meeting rooms and utilising the restaurant space takes the pressure off,” he adds. “It is a new approach to the use of space.” As for healthy food and beverage (F&B) operators that developers and landlords might consider putting into the ground floors of their office schemes, Money says Leon, M&S Simply Food and Pod have a particularly good healthy

food offer that could appeal to tenants keen to attract a health-conscious workforce. Developers are also starting to think about food in relation to workplace design in the initial planning stages of office schemes, something that was taken into account at White Rose Business Park in Leeds. “They had the foresight to tell occupiers ‘you don’t need to put in your own restaurants – we don’t need 10 restaurants on site. Instead we’ll build one restaurant that can be used by all staff and we’ll charge a very reasonable rate for the food’,” says Doughty. “They saved tenants a significant amount of money and they put on a really good show.” Despite studies having shown 30 years ago that food plays a vital part in our performance at work, a number of companies have failed to tackle the problem and as a result many of them are failing behind more forward thinking rivals, which has potential consequences in the ‘war on talent’. “I would say it’s 50/50,” says Doughty. “Some [companies] are ploughing on in just the same way they used to while others are ahead of the game. “And it’s not just about food – they are putting in gardens and relaxation spaces, improving levels of natural light and generally enlivening the office space. Things like that really add to people’s wellbeing and those that are doing it are seeing returns. There has been a lot of change in the last five years and there will be an awful lot more in the next five years.” A growing appetite for healthy eating is helping businesses thrive and developers are coming to realise they need to take F&B provision and food-based workplace design seriously to attract occupiers. After all, we really are what we eat.



A recipe for success

Major studies show healthy buildings are housing more healthy workforces


he link between the design of hospitals and the speed at which patients recover has been well known for many years. Numerous studies have demonstrated time and again that when people are recuperating from serious operations their recovery is hastened and improved if they’re in a space with natural ventilation and a view out over greenery or water. Those private clinics on the shores of Lake Geneva know what they’re doing. What is less well understood is the link between the quality of

commercial buildings and the wellbeing of the people who work within them. That is starting to change, however, with several major studies showing that healthy buildings tend to house healthy workforces – with all the resulting benefits to productivity and ultimately the bottom line it entails. So just how clear is the link between healthy commercial space and staff wellbeing? And what can be done to alert more landlords and occupiers to the benefits? Perhaps surprisingly, most of the organisations leading the

charge both in terms of research and outreach are built environment sustainability pressure groups. The reason is simple: green lobbyists have tried for many years to make the case for greater sustainability in property based first on the moral case and then by establishing a link between green buildings and the increased rents and prices they can attract. The first tactic met with little enthusiasm. And while there is growing evidence that green buildings can indeed lead to a jump in income and values, the second is




of appeal mainly to landlords rather than occupiers. When it comes to wellbeing and productivity, however, pressure groups believe they may have found an opening. The Venn diagram between sustainable buildings and healthy buildings isn’t a perfect circle but it isn’t far off, so all of a sudden campaigners are able to make their case in a different way. “It does genuinely capture people’s interest in a way that from our perspective [is helpful],” says John Alker, campaign and policy director at the UK Green Building

“Interest will take off when occupiers realise they hold a lot of the cards” Council (UKGBC). “Energy and carbon is less personal; less tangible. This impacts anybody and everybody, and our feedback from sustainability people in the sector is that it’s much easier to engage colleagues on this topic.” The wellbeing argument also helps campaigners better engage with occupiers specifically because it is so universal: you don’t need to have a particular interest in property to get why it’s important. Moreover, once businesses understand that the quality of their offices can have a direct impact on their productivity they are likely to engage more actively with their landlords. “Occupiers don’t tend to view themselves as part of the property sector – they have businesses to run and they just happen to need space,” says Alker. “There are typically very few people in an organisation whose job it is to think about property or workspace,

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but they’re a really key audience for us to engage. When occupiers increasingly realise that they hold a lot of the cards, that’s when I think interest in this area will really take off.” In terms of the evidence, the first major step forward came just over two years ago when the World Green Building Council (WGBC) published Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: the Next Chapter for Green Building. The report, sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska, was effectively a review of all the academic research the authors could lay their hands on from around the world. The case it built, the WGBC believes, is compelling. For instance, the report found evidence that better quality air alone can lead to productivity improvements of 8% to 11%. “The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of staff is overwhelming,” says Jane Henley, senior advisor to the US Green Building Council and former chief executive of the WGBC. “There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings.” She adds: “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 competitive advantage.” The WGBC isn’t the only organisation helping companies understand the impact buildings can have on their inhabitants. Following extensive

Clean living: The new-look 23 King Street building in London

Major refurbishment: quality interiors at 100 Cheapside

consultation with doctors and architects, former Goldman Sachs banker Paul Scialla has developed a Well Building Standard – a performance-based system that measures and monitors the features of a building that affect human health and wellbeing. The standard is administered by the International Well Building Institute and, although in May this year there were only seven ‘well-certified’ buildings around the world, more than 120 projects had registered for the certification globally, including the 22

Bishopsgate office tower. Scialla says that a growing number of landlords are starting to get interested in the new standard. “Clearly the tenant or occupier is going to drive the ultimate conversation but we’re seeing interest from landlords and developers who want to differentiate their product or attract their tenants that are looking for this – and there’s a significant pick-up in interest from architects and engineers who want to differentiate their services,” Scialla told

Property Week earlier this year. One landlord already investing heavily in the wellbeing of its buildings is Standard Life Investments. It’s currently taking part in the ‘Wellbeing Lab’ – a project launched by UKGBC last month that involves a dozen teams of landlords and occupiers who are going to spend around six months investigating the link between office environment, wellbeing and productivity in their buildings. Ultimately, the idea is to provide solid data and case studies that demonstrate the link between healthy buildings and business performance. That evidence can then be used to sell the idea to other companies before rolling out the research programme to retailers. Standard Life Investments’ sustainability manager Graham Baxter says the project “gives us an opportunity to validate some of the design and operational interventions that we have been implementing in our recent projects”. The company has already made significant inroads in terms of the design and construction of new buildings and major refurbishment projects, in particular at 100 Cheapside and 23 King Street in London. But he adds that in the last year the company has also seen the benefits where it has been involved with its tenants on fit-out projects. “Good design and construction of interiors have had [a positive impact] on tenant satisfaction,” he says, referencing Park 20/20 in Amsterdam and 6 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh. “As a landlord we play a distinct role in the education process for our occupiers,” says Baxter. “For example, we take an active part in helping tenants design their fit-outs and highlight the features that will benefit the health,

wellbeing and productivity of their staff. We think this is an important contribution that all landlords could and should make.” And that, of course, is the key. While the companies involved in the Wellbeing Lab will no doubt gain a great deal in terms of the benefits of specific green or healthy building features, they are also likely to be already aware of the issue. If the project were to stop there it would surely be a case of preaching to the converted. But the hope is that the evidence to emerge from the

“Landlords want to differentiate their product to attract tenants” initiative will be so compelling that if the UKGBC and its partners shout loud enough the market will take note. It’s one way in which positive environmental results can be gained in the property and construction industries, which let’s not forget account for between 40% to 50% of carbon emissions without the need for government intervention. Alker believes that as the evidence in favour of constructing ‘healthier’ buildings mounts “over time, what you will see is that it’s the most engaged parts of the market that are able to adapt and change the products they’re bringing to the market and invest in improving stock”. Support for the greater development of green and healthy buildings is growing but the evidence from projects like the Wellbeing Lab needs to be pretty compelling if its going to convince CEOs and CFOs about the merits of investing in wellbeing.