Wellbeing Labs

Greengage has been investigating how best to measure and improve health and wellbeing in offices by participating in the Wellbeing Lab project run by the UK Green Building Council this year. The project brought together teams from different companies to investigate the opportunities and challenges associated with gathering physical, perceptual, and organisational data relating to the office environment.

The Wellbeing Lab was an opportunity for Greengage to investigate wellbeing in our office and explore potential improvements, as well as to learn transferable lessons for other participants. We were in the unique position as a growing SME, to explore how to best implement such a project in a smaller, shared office space. This included physical data monitoring of indoor environmental quality, a perception survey, investigating organisational data and designing interventions through a targeted workshop with occupants.

We shared with participants that undertaking a perception survey had a disproportionately high value to the process. It was central to engaging with staff and key to identifying challenges and deciding on simple interventions.

Further, monitoring environmental quality provides data to cross-check with survey responses and ensure that thresholds considered unhealthy, for indicators such as temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity, volatile compounds and particles, are not breached. When planning a project, a key trade-off to consider is between quality and availability of data. Domestic monitoring devices are cheaper and easier to obtain and set up, but the data reading is more accurate on commercial grade devices. From our experience and those of other project teams in the Wellbeing Lab, we concluded that a marginal increase in data accuracy does not substantially alter the decisions on interventions taken as a result. Thus, monitoring indoor environmental quality is a worthwhile exercise to undertake, even on a small budget.

For the success of the project it was essential to bring together key decision makers and knowledge holders from different departments. A targeted workshop to define objectives, discuss monitoring outputs and potential interventions is an effective way to achieve this.  We found that the organisation of workshops should provide different avenues of communication to suit different personalities and ensure everyone can have their say. Greengage is currently implementing key interventions that have emerged from this process in our office and will monitor the impact this has on various indicators collected.

To share our insights and start a discussion about ways to measure and improve health and wellbeing we ran a workshop on ‘Perceptions and Reality of a Healthy Office’ as part of the Green Sky Thinking Week in May 2017.

The event focussed on sharing practical issues to encourage wider uptake of similar approaches.

The animated discussion with participants that followed the Green Sky Thinking event highlighted that there is a keen interest to implement bespoke projects to investigate health and wellbeing of building occupants. The debate focused on how to identify clear, cost-effective interventions that have a positive impact on occupants in terms of their physical and mental wellbeing. Trends indicate that environmental monitoring will become ubiquitous as smartphones will increasingly have this functionality. Competition to attract the best employees will make processes and procedures to monitor and improve health and wellbeing essential to stay ahead of the curve.

Read the official compendium of experiences from project teams on the UK-GBC website.