Stepping up workplace wellness efforts to boost staff productivity, morale

The drive worldwide to boost workplace wellness, which is gaining momentum, ensures a win-win situation for companies and employees.

In Singapore, steps have been taken to create healthier offices, such as a new Green Mark scheme by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

"Wellness in the workplace is fast becoming a priority for landlords and tenants across Asia-Pacific," said a report by real estate services firm Colliers International released last week. Besides clean air and suitable lighting levels, initiatives the report recommended include using technology to show pollutant levels through air monitors. The report noted that savings from wellness initiatives in India were up to US$20 billion (S$27 billion) last year.

Mr Sam Harvey-Jones, managing director of occupier services Asia at Colliers International, said: "Across Asia, wellness is increasingly considered a key component of the employee experience. As the concept of wellness gains ground, companies are starting to measure and report on the links between wellness and financial performance."

For instance, there is a drop in employee absenteeism and greater productivity due to enhanced employee engagement, he said.

Mr Harvey-Jones also noted that wellness factors have an impact on commercial real estate decisions. Qualities such as air quality, natural light and recreational space are key drivers of relocation decisions in markets like Hong Kong, based on Colliers' research.

Last September, the BCA and Health Promotion Board (HPB) launched the new Green Mark For Healthier Workplaces.

The 42-storey Six Battery Road in Raffles Place has the largest indoor vertical garden in the Central Business District, with about 120 plant species occupying 2,000 sq ft of space.
The 42-storey Six Battery Road in Raffles Place has the largest indoor vertical garden in the Central Business District, with about 120 plant species occupying 2,000 sq ft of space. PHOTO: CAPITALAND

Under the certification, offices are assessed on their sustainable design and management, energy and resource management, office environment as well as the provision of health-related policies and programmes for employees.

Engineering consultancy firm Arup Singapore was one of the pilots for the scheme and achieved a Green Mark Platinum rating last year.

Its new office in Frasers Tower features a live-monitoring system for indoor air quality that measures temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide levels, among other things. Another feature is an internal staircase connecting the two floors of the office, which encourages physical activity among its staff as well as more interaction between teams on different floors.

About 20 per cent of work stations at the office are also sit-to-stand, with height-adjustable desks, so that employees have the option of standing to do work.

Said Arup Singapore office leader Tan Yoong Heng: "The workplace can be a strong enabler of people by helping staff to be more productive and connect with one another in new ways."

One developer that is keen on promoting wellness is CapitaLand. Wellness features in its buildings include a 2,000 sq ft indoor vertical garden at Six Battery Road and the Big Picture at Capital Tower, which is an auditorium by day and a cinema by night.

The 51-storey CapitaSpring, when completed in 2021, will have a four-storey botanical promenade 100m above ground with a cafe and green spaces for employees.

Said Mr Tan Seng Chai, CapitaLand's group chief people officer: "From creating conducive community spaces to incorporating biophilic designs, these well-designed spaces enhance the well-being of our customers (who are our tenants, shoppers and guests)."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2019, with the headline 'Stepping up workplace wellness efforts to boost staff productivity, morale'. Print Edition | Subscribe