Commercial building owners should reconsider investing in costly amenities like meditation rooms, standing desks and state-of-the-art gyms. Office workers want temperature control, better lighting and fewer noise distractions, according to a series of recent studies.
The key to deploying many of these perks lies in providing a robust and secure digital connectivity infrastructure that enables IoT sensors and devices to communicate, send and receive data.
Employers across the country are spending millions to equip workplaces with modern wellness programs and gyms to attract employees but according to the results of a recent Harvard study wellness programs offered by 80% of large U.S. companies have yielded unimpressive results.
“Our findings show that health behaviors can respond to a workplace wellness program, but they also temper expectations of realizing large returns on investment in the short term,” said study author Zirui Song, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine in the Department of Health Care Policy at the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The large-scale randomized controlled trial of workplace wellness programs, found that people who worked at sites offering the program had higher rates of some healthy behaviors, but no significant differences in health related outcomes.
Employees did not exhibit positive health outcomes such as lower body mass index, blood pressure, or cholesterol. Further wellness programs alone did not reduce employee absenteeism, improve job performance, or more moderate health care use or spending.
A survey 1,601 workers across North America designed to figure out which wellness perks improved productivity and satisfaction most among employees in the workplace found that employees want basics such as better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace.
More than half of the employees surveyed indicated that poor air quality makes them sleepier during the day, resulting in a loss of one hour of productivity among a third of the participants.
The survey found that air quality and light were the biggest influencers of employee performance, while fitness facilities and technology-based health tools remained trivial.
A workplace equipped with natural light, proper ventilation, and comfortable temperatures reduced absenteeism up to four days a year.
The number one environmental factor cited in the survey was better air quality with 58% respondents indicating that fresh air would improve their wellness and 50% stating that they would work and feel better with some view of the outdoors.
A third of employees surveyed said they would want the ability to adjust the temperature in their workspace with only 33% of workers indicating that the room temperature was ideal or comfortable at their workplaces.
Workers also complained about noise distractions, with more than 33% of workers surveyed stating that office noise from phones, typing and co-workers’ conversations impacted their ability to concentrate.
As more employers seek to improve workplace productivity and employee satisfaction the results from the surveys above make a strong case for building owners to deploy smart building technologies as a means of providing an optimal work environment to attract enterprise tenants.
The new research is debunking a long-held belief among building owners that the primary financial benefits derived from deploying smart building are related to reducing utility and maintenance costs.
Research indicates that there are much higher yields from other benefits such as improved workplace productivity and employee retention.
According to a recent report, 43% of the total value of deploying smart building technologies that create optimal workplace environments comes from enhanced workplace productivity, and 41% from employee retention. Employee wellness and utility savings account for a modest 7% return while maintenance accounts for a mere 2%, according to the report.
Commercial building owners who want to attract enterprise tenants and remain competitive will need to adopt smart building technologies and a robust digital connectivity infrastructure that creates workplace environments offering better air quality, natural lighting and temperature control in the future.