The refurbishment of British Land’s Head Office presented an exciting opportunity for the company to test measures designed to enhance people’s wellbeing and productivity through placemaking. The results show that staff in the new offices now feel happier, healthier and more productive. So, British Land is rolling out the tested measures elsewhere, from increasing natural light, views out and greenery, to encouraging active living and social interaction.
99% of staff find the new space an enjoyable work environment, up from 69%
Wellbeing innovations tested for wider use across the portfolio
New framework tested for measuring wellbeing and productivity
British Land is one of the UK’s leading property firms, with a vision to create Places People Prefer. In 2015, the company embarked on a radical programme to promote wellbeing and productivity across its portfolio. As a placemaker, British Land can help people feel happier and healthier by creating wonderful public realms, pleasant walkways, good local links, access to nature and opportunities for social interaction.
The refurbishment of its Head Office provided the ideal opportunity for British Land to introduce wellbeing innovations and evaluate whether these did indeed foster a happier, more productive workforce. In doing so, British Land applied the World Green Building Council framework for measuring health, wellbeing and productivity in offices that it had helped develop.
British Land partnered with the Monomoy Company to measure three data sets, before and after the refurbishment:
Design partner MoreySmith’s plans for the space were wholeheartedly based on wellbeing principles and informed by the findings of the pre-refurbishment studies. Mace acted as main contractor and Como as project manager.
Wellbeing measures included:
Additional sustainability measures included:
How to define wellbeing?
Wellbeing can cover many different things. For British Land, the focus is on emotional and physiological factors that can be directly influenced by the physical environment. It’s about providing the right conditions for people’s health and happiness to flourish, and then determining how to measure and improve this further. Placemakers cannot influence every aspect of people’s wellbeing, but they can provide the foundation for people’s wellbeing to flourish. This study helped British Land improve its understanding of how it can influence health, wellbeing and productivity through placemaking.
How to get accurate data for environmental conditions?
Low-cost, portable monitors for real-time environmental data related to health and wellbeing are an emerging technology. British Land used CubeSensors that yielded important information, but also presented some issues. For instance, sensors that were plugged in recorded high temperatures, freestanding sensors required regular recharging and sensors that were too far from the base station failed to record data. There was also no platform to compare data across time and location. British Land held weekly meetings with the team to review results and address issues with the monitors. The team continues to monitor new technologies coming to market, especially those with historical data capabilities and more user-friendly formats. It is likely that future generations of smart phone will introduce environmental data monitoring.
How to bring together data sets from different areas of the business?
British Land needed to bring together data sets traditionally considered within separate business areas. For instance, human resources for data such as staff turnover, medical costs and absences, facilities managers for data on temperatures, lighting and air quality, and asset managers for surveys of occupier satisfaction with the building. Encouraging these different business areas to look at all three data sets together required a change in approach. For British Land, this built on the good data and reporting framework that the company had already established through its sustainability strategy.
Head of Wellbeing and Futureproofing
Matthew Webster, Head of Wellbeing and Futureproofing at British Land
“As a placemaker, we can have a real impact on how people feel and behave, how they interact with others and how productive they are. Evidence shows that if we get this right and provide the foundations for people’s wellbeing to flourish, the potential benefits are significant, for the people in our places, for our commercial occupiers, investors and the wider society.”