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Sustainable Building: Health, Wellbeing And Productivity

I recently went to a talk by John Alker of the World Green Building Council (WGBC). He was talking about their latest paper, “Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building.”

What I found particularly interesting is that a building being green and sustainable isn’t purely focused on the bricks and mortar.

So what does that mean for architects and other ‘build’ professionals? Well according to John Alker, in order to be sustainable – be that the physical organization (its building) or the theoretical organization (the ‘company’) – the organization needs to look to its health, wellbeing and productivity (now I know the clue was in the title of the paper but bear with me).

Staff costs can represent up to 90% of a company’s operating costs. So this means that the words ‘health, wellbeing and productivity’ are not just fluff but hold significant repercussions for a company. People are an organizations biggest resource and therefore, their biggest risk!

This got me thinking about the architects and build professionals themselves. Health, wellbeing and productivity in the workplace isn’t only about the physical office but can be affected by staff turnover / retention, revenue, productivity, to name but a few. These are all important for organizations to track and measure because ALL of this can affect the bottom line.

Even small improvements to productivity can be significant, but organizations need to be systematic to help track productivity. However, there is confusion as to what to measure and how; this is one of the key barriers to incorporating health, wellbeing and productivity considerations into business decisions. So what can be done to help organizations?

The WGBC has presented a simple toolkit that businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their buildings and this can inform financial decision-making. However, much of the audience mentioned that they did track much of this but that it was costly in terms of resource, time-consuming and they still couldn’t necessarily run the reports they needed in a timely way. It’s great that organizations are already appreciating the need to track these measures, but how can they do so in a more efficient way?

It was then that IT systems sprung to mind. And for architects and the build world, there’s one in particular - Timemaster. Timemaster is low cost and high value (I hear the financial director’s ears pricking up at this!). It is simple and easy to use (which appeals to all of us) and it can also help with sifting through everything that we now use to measure. It can help support data collection and sharing and can help you report on your hours, chargeability, holiday time and sick leave. You want to spend your time on design so why don’t you refocus your business, refine your efficiency and allow your architects to concentrate on design!

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