Worth the effort: healthy workplaces are an attainable goal
Today’s landlords might seem like jugglers. The responsibility to provide a high-quality workplace involves numerous elements, from design to amenitization to excellent property management, all of which need to be balanced at all times, lest the distractions get the better of them.
On the other hand, the costs of all these amenities and services add up, and can represent a real (and sometimes hard to justify) strain on property profitability.
For all the choices landlords have, one area that is particularly worthy of a little extra spending and attention is tenant health. It’s something that permeates every aspect of employee life.
Spending eight or more hours in the office each day might commonly be seen as an obstacle to a healthy life, but the landlords that turn that obstacle into an opportunity will stand out in a crowded market. And what’s more – healthy employees are productive employees. It’s a win win for landlords, tenants, and employees themselves.
So what is the most effective way to build a healthy office space?
The first step might be the hardest: ensuring that the physical space itself has features conducive to health and fitness. Yes, outfitting an on-site gym might be the most high-impact way to make the office health-friendly. But it need not be the only option.
Take the time to lay out a walking path through common areas in the office in order to incentivize walking. Put art or other unique design touches in the stairways to keep elevator use to a minimum. And take advantage of all the methods possible to keep employees from spending their entire days sitting down at the desk. Invest in sit/stand desks or even treadmill desks as a buildout perk or if you’re a co-working manager.
If that is too much, or for existing tenants, consider simply supplying exercise balls or under-desk pedaling machines as an incentive perk to your best tenants - they don't hurt worker performance.
Another option is to incentivize non-car transportation. In-office showers can be critical but are expensive to set up. Simpler solutions, such as being sure to provide ample bicycle parking or setting up a public transit schedule could also do the trick. If you have the budget, consider a last-mile shuttle if your office isn’t located immediately near a bike-friendly street or public transit line.
Don’t forget non-fitness factors, like air quality, noise levels, and good lighting. If you have enough of a tenant base to be considering health initiatives you’re likely OK in this department, but a quick test from a qualified consultant could yield illuminating results. If you know that a certain part of your building has unfixable issues in the quality department –maybe it’s a suite near the lobby, with lots of traffic, or perhaps in the shade of another building – accept it and use technology to provide workarounds.
Suggest noise-dampening construction during buildouts or provide additional lighting solutions such as area or desk lights if necessary.
With the physical space primed for healthy work days, consider offering health-friendly programs and events. Skip donuts in the lobby – go for a gourmet fruit basket, or yogurt and granola, instead (all these things compliment coffee, too!).
Organize group fitness sessions - a tenant relations app is an ideal platform to make it happen. Depending on the size of your building, you may even be able to help set up more niche fitness activities. Who wouldn’t be up for some competitive curling? If that doesn’t quite get your tenants excited, consider setting up a fitness rewards program where individuals can receive perks or rewards for meeting certain fitness milestones or biometric screening appointments. Operate on the honor system or consider a partner.
Once your space is configured and you’re working on some internal programming, it’ll be time to start building partnerships with fitness providers and event partners in the community. Whether it is organizing for a building team in a local 5, bringing in a personal trainer on Fridays, or offering discounts at local shops, once again a tenant relations app is the most efficient way to build relationships and keep them all in one place.
So by now you should have your space set up for healthy work days, a variety of programs at your building, and plenty of opportunities for local collaboration. Perhaps not every recommendation here is applicable to your specific ownership situation, but from yoga balls to elaborate on-site gyms, hopefully something fits your budget – and will help you keep juggling all the commitments of being a landlord well into the future of your portfolio.
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How about the other end of the active office spectrum? Read our recent article on the impact virtual reality will have on modern workplaces.