Workman Guides First European Business Park to Achieve Fitwel for Wellbeing Excellence

19/07/2019

Workman has successfully guided Patron Capital and APAM’s Arlington Business Park through the Fitwel accreditation process, making it the UK’s first business park to achieve this certification. The Fitwel standard provides a blueprint for making positive changes that are scientifically proven to enhance occupier health and wellbeing. Awarded two stars for wellbeing excellence, Arlington Business Park is the highest scoring project globally in the Multi-Tenant Base Building category.

Contributing to occupier health, wellbeing and satisfaction

Demonstrating good ESG management to investors

2 stars – the highest scoring project globally in its category

Situation

Arlington Business Park is an award-winning office park in the Thames Valley comprising 360,000 sq ft of office accommodation across 11 buildings. It is owned by Patron Capital and APAM, and managed by Workman, which are all committed to responsible property investment and management.

APAM was interested in achieving Fitwel healthy building certification, a service which Workman provides. Together, they selected Arlington Business Park, which is centred around a lake and offers a range of amenities that support wellbeing, including a café, gym and garden seating areas. These features, combined with an engaged asset manager and proactive on-site team, made the Park a good location to pilot Fitwel.

Key drivers included:

  • Attracting and retaining occupiers in the context of increased occupier focus on health and wellbeing, both by gaining recognition for existing wellness features and by identifying new opportunities.
  • Demonstrating to investors good management of health and wellbeing, now a mandatory section in GRESB, the leading global benchmark for environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics in real estate.

 

Actions

The certification process was managed by Workman’s Sustainability and Wellbeing team, which includes a qualified Fitwel Ambassador. It focused on the main building at Arlington Business Park, Building 1410, covering communal spaces, the management suite and surrounding amenities, but excluding occupier areas.

The team gained Fitwel credits by providing photographs and other evidence of existing wellbeing features and initiatives, such as:

  • Outdoor walking trails, fitness equipment including table tennis tables, as well as restorative gardens with seating and an on-site gym.
  • Good lighting design and well-maintained entryway systems for air quality.
  • Access to natural daylight in the management suite, with views of nature from workstations.
  • Bike storage, showers and lockers for occupants.
  • Healthy eating strategies in the café, including discounts on healthy meals and menu items, a salad bar, fruit at point of purchase and naturally flavoured drinking water.

The team also introduced a range of new initiatives that gained additional Fitwel credits, including:

  • Creating an allotment garden for occupiers, with eight plots totalling 35m2.
  • Installing a standing desk in the management suite.
  • Developing and implementing an internal air quality policy and green purchasing policy. These set out roles and responsibilities for the on-site team, including ensuring cleaning regimes and maintenance programmes are planned with consideration for impacts on internal air quality, locating air conditioning intakes away from outdoor sources of pollution, and procuring materials such as cleaning products, furniture and carpets responsibly.
  • Expanding the emergency kit, in addition to emergency address systems and first aiders for occupants.
  • Implementing active design strategies in partnership with StepJockey, including placing permanent signage to nudge people to take the stairs rather than the lift.

The certification process started in August 2018 and was completed in February 2019. Early on, Workman’s Fitwel Ambassador spent a half-day at the Park, looking at relevant areas and speaking with the on-site team. He uploaded evidence to the Fitwel portal and the on-site team took action on new initiatives where appropriate, supported by the asset manager. Workman is now exploring additional opportunities with clients.

Financial

Typical costs for Fitwel certification range from £6,000 to £10,000 depending on asset size, with additional costs for physical works such as signage and allotments.

Benefits

The benefits of Fitwel at Arlington Business Park include:

  • Contributing to occupier health and wellbeing by identifying and implementing positive changes that are scientifically proven to enhance occupier health and wellbeing.
  • Supporting occupier satisfaction. According to the British Council for Offices’ Wellness Matters Report, health and wellbeing are important factors for 96% of office workers.
  • Demonstrating good management of health and wellbeing to investors.
  • Showcasing health and wellbeing performance to occupiers and investors, achieving the first Fitwel certification for a UK business park, with the highest score globally in the multi-occupier base-building category.
  • Supporting APAM’s strategy of improving wellbeing by using best-in-class design, tech initiatives and building a strong occupier community.
  • Creating opportunities to engage with occupiers, introducing a new topic of conversation focusing on positive ways to improve their experience on the Park.

Challenges & Achievements

CERTIFICATION

How to achieve a Fitwel first?

Workman collaborated closely with Fitwel throughout the accreditation process to undertake the first certification of a UK business park. Originally developed in the US, Fitwel has mainly been used in the UK for city centre offices and workspaces. Some tailoring may be needed to adapt the criteria for Europe and for different property types, such as business parks. For instance, the approach to car parking in semi-rural locations may need to be different to central London. Also, in the US many workers do not have access to paid family leave[i], so lactation rooms are a high priority and thus the highest scoring item on Fitwel. It may be appropriate to adjust this score for the UK, which has statutory maternity leave and pay. Workman gave detailed feedback to Fitwel.

COMMERCIAL

How to prove the business case for health and wellbeing initiatives?

Whilst there is growing evidence that designing and managing places for wellbeing correlates with stronger levels of occupier retention and long-term financial returns, more needs to be done by the industry and organisations such as Fitwel to quantify the business case. This could involve monitoring indicators such as occupancy rates, occupier retention and asset value alongside wellbeing initiatives. Workman recognises that effective property management is no longer simply concerned with looking after the physical asset, but it is increasingly important to provide environments within those assets to enhance the users’ overall experience, including wellbeing.

More on Fitwel

 

i U.S Department of Labor (2018).

“By achieving the highest score for the current Multi-Tenant Base Building Scorecard for Arlington Business Park, Workman LLP, Patron Capital and APAM have demonstrated global leadership in creating health-promoting workplaces for occupiers. We are thrilled that these Fitwel UK users continue to be at the forefront of building health.”

Reena Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Active Design (operator of Fitwel)