What’s ‘Hangry’? And how can The WELL Building Standard combat it in the workplace?

‘Hangry’ (the combination of hungry and angry through poor nutrition) employees are unhappy employees, focusing on providing them with nutritious food options mean better moods, improved concentration and higher productivity levels.

This is just one of the 7 ways that a well designed office space can affect the well-being of employees, according to the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) – the world’s leading certification for ensuring the health and well-being in the buildings where we spend more than 90% of our time – which is set to become as important as BREEAM and LEED in the way we design offices. We asked Victoria Lockhart from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) to talk to us to help us further understand and promote health and well-being in the workplace using WELL’s guidelines.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” [1]

IWBI talk International WELL Building Institute Victoria Lockhart WELL Building Standard Tsunami Axis

The WELL Building Standard was launched in 2014 following six years of research and development with sources including the World Health Organisation, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US General Services Administration Centre for Workplace Strategy Public Building Services and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Workplace Well-being at a Glance:

  • “A WELL building is one that is designed and constructed and maintained to improve the health happiness, wellness and productivity of its users.” [2]
  • “Sick leave and working while unwell costs UK companies, on average, 7.78% of their yearly wage bill.” [3]
  • “Around one in five (19.3%) employees already suffer from at least one lifestyle-related chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.” [3]
  • IWBI recognises the importance of designers as part of the solution in advancing health and wellness in buildings and in the creation of WELL Certified offices. Designers have a public health role in our society.” [4]
  • Offices should be designed so that employees are “making healthy choices by default, [so that] it’s not an extra effort.” [1] Making simple changes, such as making the staircase in an office building more prominent and appealing than the lift, integrates physical activity into workers’ routines, and has a cumulative effect in making a measurable difference to employee health and well-being.

The WELL Building Standard focuses on seven concepts:

[Licensed Mark] is a trademark of, and is used here with permission from, International WELL Building Institute, pbc.

IWBI talk International WELL Building Institute Victoria Lockhart WELL Building Standard Tsunami Axis

Each concept can be broken down into measurable objectives and features that can be designed into a building or office space. For example, within Nourishment, the International Labour Organisation found that poor nourishment can reduce productivity by up to 20 per cent. In order to combat this in an office environment the following recommendations can be implemented:

  • Healthy portions
  • Mindful eating (Getting away from the desk/interacting with co-workers)
  • Food production (farming onsite where possible – even just a herb garden!)
  • Access to healthy foods
  • Food preparation (Is there space to prepare a healthy option?)
  • Allergies and alternatives (e.g. gluten free options)
  • Transparency (Do the consumers know what’s in the food they’re eating?)
  • Environmental cues and influencers (display information on what makes a healthy vs. an unhealthy diet).

IWBI talk International WELL Building Institute Victoria Lockhart WELL Building Standard Tsunami Axis

[1]   The World Health Organisation
[2]   Lucy Pullin – Development Manager, Mirvac Group
[3]   https://www.uk.mercer.com/newsroom/workforce_costs.html
[4]   Victoria Lockhart from the International WELL Building Institute

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