June 15, 2022

WELL Building Standard Part 1: Why Do We Need Healthy Workplaces?

During the early stages of COVID-19, many of us found our world—once filled with regular visits to the office, dining out, and social gatherings—was quickly reduced to our home and neighborhood. Among the uncertainty, fear, and loss of access to people and life as we knew it, our mental and physical health were impacted. This was especially compounded for healthcare workers and first responders.

Now that we are finding a new groove, understanding the impact our built environment has on health has become an important aspect of the future of work, education, travel, and gathering. For example, we know that indoor air quality can help keep us healthy or make us sick, but there are many additional factors to consider. The WELL Building Standard addresses a comprehensive range and gives meaningful measures to the elements contributing to people’s health in the built environment.

What the WELL?

The WELL Building Standard is a relatively new performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being. It includes the categories of air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community.

Ten years of research and development were the basis of the standard. The research integrated scientific and medical research, and reviewed existing literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes, and demographic risk factors. This process led to a set of measurable markers designed to comprehensively cover the individual needs of building occupants, ensuring any built environment that uses the standards is optimized for human health and wellness.

Why Consider Being WELL?

There are dozens of reasons to use WELL Building Standards to modify your current environment or guide decisions when designing new, but let’s touch on a few impactful ones:

1. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investment

From major financial institutions and capital investment firms to your next environmental services hire, people are talking and thinking about the environment. What makes ESG different from general sustainability is having a clearly defined set of criteria with measurable goals, practices, and behavioral guidelines for your company, as well as showing how the company is accountable. ESG data is a way to show that your actions align with your words as a company, and WELL Building Standard reports enhance ESG performance by providing measurable data.

2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)

WELL Building Standards require implementation and reports on internal policies and programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as anti-discrimination and wage equity policies, anti-bias training, and employee resource groups. For companies and institutions for whom DE&I is already a commitment, WELL Building Standards integrate naturally into your current goals.

3. Commitment to Health

The concepts within the WELL Building Standards are focused on providing the highest quality spaces to address physical and mental health of the people in the building.  By choosing to follow the WELL Building Standard you are choosing to prioritize the health of your staff with a holistic perspective from the individual to the community. From clean air and water to safety from violence and access to equitable resources, following the standard is proof of a commitment to health.

4. Happy People do Good (and More) Work

Creating a workplace culture where caring for others supersedes the bottom-line, organizational chart, or corporate ladder aids in stronger feelings of engagement and trust—both of which influence productivity and job satisfaction.

Access to daylight, having options for thermal comfort, favored lighting levels, and acoustic stimulation or privacy also aid in the feeling of satisfaction within an environment.

Separate studies from the University of Warwick and Oxford University have established a conclusive link between happiness and productivity. The connection between happiness and health has also been tested by Harvard Health and Northwestern Medicine. WELL Building Standards help companies create policies, procedures, and physical environments that support occupants’ mental and physical well-being. Healthy workplaces contribute to feelings of happiness, higher productivity, and better quality of work—contributing to a healthier bottom line.

Progressive Companies has WELL accredited professionals throughout the firm. We’d love to answer any questions you have about WELL Building Standard or discuss a project you have in mind.



Related Insights