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15 September 2020 | by Matt Reilly
At the heart of this change is a renewed focus on well-being. Now, as many employees start to re-enter the workplace after six months of home-working, it’s likely that employers will start doing much more to monitor, improve and benchmark well-being.
Fitwel is an international certification scheme that was designed to do that by assessing and improving the health and productivity of buildings and workspaces. The scheme is a useful benchmark for well-being-minded occupiers because it scores a building’s location and facilities, as well as tenants’ behaviours.
The certification covers a lot of ground thanks to its seven main goals – namely to impact community health, increase physical activity, promote occupancy safety, provide healthy food options, instil feelings of well-being, support social equity for vulnerable populations and reduce morbidity and absenteeism.
Fitwel assesses buildings and workplaces against 12 main strategies, each of which is linked to at least one health impact, in order to receive a maximum of 144 points. Points are awarded based on factors such as proximity to local amenities and public transport as well as access to outdoor spaces, the inclusion of shared spaces with other tenants and the promotion of healthy food options, among other things.
What’s so encouraging about Fitwel, is that most businesses and landlords will already be doing some of the right things in order to earn Fitwel points. No one should be starting from zero. With the addition of a few changes, it is possible for landlords and occupiers to earn more points and most importantly, create spaces that reflect well-being principles and deliver the best well-being outcomes.
Reducing absenteeism, improving employee retention rates, boosting productivity and keeping employees happy and healthy makes more successful businesses – and there’s plenty of evidence to show it. For businesses keen to create healthy workplaces which improve their reputation into the bargain, Fitwel can be particularly valuable.
Some of the strategies that Fitwel promotes to create a healthier workplace include greater access to outdoor amenities, making stairwells more visible and inviting to encourage their use and promoting good access to fresh air and natural light. The Fitwel certification allows property managers, building owners and occupiers alike to demonstrate the health of a building and in turn its people.
Modern office tenants expect a building to do more than protect them from the elements – they want buildings that support how they will live and work in the space. As such, the breadth of building’ on-site facilities and energy efficiency credentials can all help to improve their appeal. In fact, according to Fitwel research 49% of building owners would pay more for a property that is proven to impact health positively.
Fitwel is a badge of honour to show that well-being is a key consideration and can be used to help drive ongoing value and determine areas for improvement and modification. Better health and well-being infrastructure in a building, means greater opportunity for tenant engagement and satisfaction and ultimately capital value.
As it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to recognise their moral and ethical duty to be more sustainable – Fitwel can have real value. Fitwel looks at health and safety procedures, procurement and the supply chain and sustainability and as recertification takes place every three years, can be used to benchmark progress as well as show accountability and transparency. For building owners and occupiers where continual improvement is important, this is especially useful.
As the global pandemic continues, the level of threat shifts and employers are urged to return employees back to the workplace, it’s not surprising that many organisations are searching for extra ways to protect their people. Fitwel has recently launched a stand-alone Viral Response module which is specifically aimed at reducing the spread of virus’ etc due to COVID-19’s impact.
This module provides annual, third-party certification of internal practices and policies to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases within buildings, and looks at factor such as air quality, cleaning protocols, behavioural change and continuity planning. This extra level of safety provides reassurance and peace of mind that buildings and their occupants are as safe as possible.
Fitwel is focused on supporting healthier workplaces with a view to improve occupancy health, well-being and productivity. Because of this, the accreditation process does not demand extensive building work or fit-outs, although these will certainly help to improve scores. Instead the focus is on policies, guidance and procedures that will modify and improve behaviour with a view to improving performance continually. This cemented our interest in Fitwel and it’s why we joined the scheme and appointed our own in-house ambassador to assess, accredit and guide our clients, earlier this year.
Architectural Technician / Fitwel Consultant
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