The BCO recognises the importance of the growing Health & Wellbeing agenda, which we would term a paradigm shift, and the implications it has for office design and how the attitudes towards the office are changing. Furthermore, we recognise that the rapid escalation of literature, views and certification has led to confusion over “what really matters”.
Since last year’s World Mental Health Day, the national conversation on mental health has gained significant momentum. In the past year Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) England has trained a further 65,000 people in Mental Health First Aid. As a result, to date over 206,000 people in England have Mental Health First Aid skills. Just some of the employers who have taken ownership of mental health in their workplace and trained Mental Health First Aiders include Unilever, Siemens and WHSmith. Designers, developers, researchers, and management teams all have a critical role to play in ensuring that healthy work environments become a standard in office culture.
In April The British Council for Offices (BCO) announced the commissioning of a major research study “Wellness Matters: Health and Wellbeing in offices and what to do about it”. The year-long project will provide definitive guidance on how to enable office Health and Wellbeing across a building’s lifecycle.
The study will critique existing Health and Wellbeing measurement and certification, identify the most recent and relevant medical evidence justifying a proactive approach to Health and Wellbeing in the built environment, and give guidance on the business case for investment in this space beyond simply improving productivity. Most significantly, this research will deliver a practical guide to creating a healthy environment across the different stages of a building’s life cycle, from design, construction and leasing to the most important aspect by time and value: occupation and asset management.
The project, which will culminate in the publication of a report in March 2018, will be led by a consortium comprising architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, sustainability consultancy Sentinel RPI and Elementa Consulting, backed by medical and academic input from Royal Brompton, Imperial College and Queen Mary University. The findings will also inform the next BCO Guide to Specification, which is the industry-recognised standard for best practice in office development across the UK, also due to be published in 2018.