Creating a well workplace: Why the built environment matters.

January 08 2018 / by Mari Ryan


Most of us spend a good portion of our day either at work or asleep. We all know that sleep is good for your health. But is being a work good for your health? As we previously wrote, since we spend 90% of our time indoors, the workplace should not diminish your health. Wouldn’t it be great if our workplace actually nurtured and promoted our wellbeing?

The environment shapes us. It can influence our thoughts, feelings, motivation and behavior. There is increasing amounts of research and a movement toward a more human centered approach to the built environment. This is not only good news for employers but also for employees.

When we talk about the built environment at work, we are referring to the physical environment, both indoors and in adjacent outdoor areas. Inside a building, considerations include not just the overall design and furnishings, but also safety, air, light, water and comfort.

A big concern for many employers is the cost of wellness programs. How about taking a completely different approach. Invest $100 per employee one time in the built environment to create elements that passively influence the health of the workforce.

What’s an employer to do? Here are a few easy steps:

  • Start the conversation. An important first step is to create awareness for the ways in which your organization’s built environment is supporting or inhibiting the health of your employees. Convene a group of stakeholders that influence aspects of the built environment and who have a vested interest in the wellbeing of the workforce. This may include the obvious: human resources, and wellness staff. Others that need to be in the conversation include: facility managers, cafeteria managers, and grounds maintenance.
  • Educate yourself and your stakeholder group. Learn about healthy building standards such as the WELL Building Standard and FitWel. Each of these standards provides a variety of guidelines, resources, and tools.
  • Assess your worksite. Begin by understanding the place from which you are starting. If you are building a new worksite or renovating an existing worksite, you have the benefit of a construction project to be the catalyst for a healthier built environment. If you are like many employers, you may not have that in your budget. But you can still assess your workplace using the tools from the establish standards mentioned above and begin to identify a plan for creating a healthier workplace. 

Paying attention to the built environment shows a level of caring and concern for your workforce and acknowledges that their wellbeing matters.

Topics: Worksite Wellness, Wellbeing, Worksite Culture, green building, healthy building, well building, wellness, environment, work environment

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.