Malcolm Anson, president of the Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) underlines the importance of wellbeing within the industry and how this can help address the skills shortage we face…
Wellbeing is undoubtedly a hot topic of conversation across all industries right now. But what does wellbeing mean to me? From my point of view, I understand it as a state of mind which helps an individual to thrive and happily perform, to their optimum ability.
Research has discovered that “well” employees at work, are not only physically and mentally capable to do their job, but are also willing to develop their personal and technical skills.
Furthermore, employees who feel at one with their working environment, will feel more loyal and connected to their organisation and will put extra effort into their work.
We spend over 90% of our time in indoors – yet do any of us consider how healthy our indoor environment really is? Do we consider how it impacts on our productivity? It’s becoming more and more important, to recognise the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and the significant factor it plays in commercial buildings.
The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard to focus on the health and wellbeing of people in buildings. This has now been aligned with BREEAM – which is the global sustainability standard. The two together, now provide an easier reference point, to link both sustainability and wellness in commercial buildings and achieve best practice.
Aesthetics has often been the driving force behind building design. While that is understandably important, there has been an increasing change in people’s perceptions of the needs of a building. Recently, more focus has been placed on sustainability and ensuring that a building is energy-efficient, meeting legislation and providing a return on investment.
The purpose of WELL, is to ensure that the end user works in a healthy and happy environment, which in turn boosts their productivity. The knock-on effect of this, of course, has a positive impact on both the business and shareholders.
As I see it, wellbeing was not normally at the forefront of architects and contractor’s mind. But developers and building owners, have since recognised that wellbeing is crucial, in the same way that building performance is. Commercial buildings are continuously evolving thanks to the latest smart technology. Buildings are expected to be intelligent and that means adapting to the needs of occupants.
Many commercial buildings feature innovative technology with smart building control systems and sensors. This allows occupants to manage their own personal preferences with regards to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.
However, as yet, this is not common practice across all commercial buildings. We must fully embrace the enormous benefits that wellbeing can bring, in order to sustain a successful future for our industry.
There is no substitute for providing flexibility and user controls, rather than standard settings. No two people are the same, so why would we expect individuals to deliver their best, in an environment which is unsuitable for their needs?
Addressing the skills shortage in the building controls industry is a key area we are working on. Wellbeing is one of the ways in which we can tackle this, as it is highly influential in attracting and retaining staff.
People understandably want to work in an environment which motivates and stimulates them; while breathing in clean, fresh air, enjoying natural light, at a temperature which is comfortable for them. Wellbeing needs to be embedded within the culture of a business, to bring out the very best in people. Organisations must be looking at ways, in which they can adopt new practices, which not only continue to improve the efficiency of the building itself, but promote productivity of the occupants within. By looking after the needs and wellbeing of individuals, the building controls industry will continue to have a strong future, by enticing and retaining a vast array of enthusiastic individuals.