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Businesses that take health and well-being seriously will reap the rewards,says JLL's Peter Hilderson

Healthdays over sick days
Takeabsenteeism, for example.  Staff sickness comes at a major financial costto companies. In Australia alone, the cost of ill-health among a workforce isestimated at AU$7 billion per year, while the cost of 'presenteeism' (not fullyfunctioning at work because of medical conditions) is estimated at AU$26billion. It's a significant sum giventhat staff costs typically account for 90 per cent of a business's operationbudget.

Thenumbers speak for themselves, yet Hilderson says companies are still strugglingto find the balance between profitability and productivity.

"Thosethat take health and wellbeing seriously will reap the rewards. It's aboutbalancing the physical effect of a space with the psychological," he says.

"Everycompany is after Nirvana when it comes to the workplace but you can't removesubjective factors and the intangible aspects."

Thephysical vs the physiological
Whileculture and the management style could be a far greater barrier to change thanyour choice of blinds, by removing the physical variable businesses can measureproductivity more objectively.

"Ifyou improve the physical space, what you're left with comes to culture andmanagement, which is a separate problem."

Balancingthe physical and physiological needs of staff requires a two-pronged approachto office design. Air quality, noise reduction and temperature control areexamples of passive design elements that are proven tosignificantly impact productivity.

But active design is where companies can benefitby spending dollars on fit outs.

Attractingthe best and the brightest
Buildingspace to boost the productivity of workers is tried and tested in SiliconValley.

"Lookat Google, their fit outs are an extreme example but they really illustratewhat it is to be a 'Googler'," says Hilderson. "They put their moneywhere their mouth is and it attracts the best and brightest. Other companieshave to compete with this. That said companies should be conscious that thereis no 'one size fits all'.  They need to understand what productivitylooks like for their own organisation and design a workplace strategy thatenables the activities that create value – in our experience these activitiesare different for every organisation."

"Takinghealth and wellbeing seriously makes your workplace more attractive to ayounger workforce. They're very conscious of environmental issues and theiremployers can demonstrate their commitment to this through office design."

However,companies will find facilities management easier in the next 5-10 years, whichis a good start to redesigning the office environment.

"Whatwe're seeing is a move to more centralised data-led systems. Everything fromsmoke detectors to air conditioning sensors to lighting can be controlled inone centralised hub.

"Centrallycontrolling these systems will lead to further cost savings, efficiency ofemployees and, ultimately, wellbeing, which will impact the bottom line."


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