Wellness must take centre stage in return to the office

24th August 2021

I think office spaces will play a big part in alleviating the expected major mental health issues brought on by the pandemic. However, if workplaces are going to have the maximum impact on this issue, designers will need to ensure the spaces they create meet new levels of wellbeing, placing the issue of health centre stage, writes Helen Berresford for Property Week.

Wellness strategies have often been viewed as a ‘nice-to-have’ by some in the industry. Now, the feedback I am getting from both occupiers and developers is that wellbeing is essential to the office of the future and without a clear plan to keep people safe – and in the longer term make them healthier – organisations will find it difficult to attract talent back into the office.

We have seen many innovations in wellness over the last five years, with the strategies we have implemented being very complex and multi-layered. So, if we are going to turbocharge the wellness agenda, where do we start?

Firstly, I think we need to ensure offices address the key themes of light, air, sound and comfort in new and more radical ways. People will still want to see visible demonstrations of the wellness agenda, such as biophilia and healthy eating, which have a major part to play in shaping holistic wellness strategies and celebrating a commitment and investment in health. However, people returning to the office will also be more conscious of how intangible qualities and invisible hazards, such as viruses, can shape their experience and wellbeing.

Top selling point

This change in mindset has resulted in air quality being an even bigger consideration in office design, becoming a key ‘selling point’ for developments like never before. Designers will have to work side by side with engineers and facilities departments to innovate.

While active filtration systems and passive architectural solutions are key to this, project teams will be under increasing pressure to tune their existing systems to create the right balance between effective control and airflow with sustainable use of energy.

Read the full article here.

Helen Berresford RIBA

Partner, Head of ID:SR