Wellness at work in the warehouse sector
Here are a number of common questions that occupiers ask when evaluating a new location for their operations. As you would expect our Business Space Team is well-versed in responding to queries relating to the building specification, utilities, operational costs, wage rates, public transport and even where to buy a sausage roll. However, a new question and inevitable concern is emerging with Brexit looming – clients are telling us they are concerned there will be a lack of employees post-Brexit and whilst a location may offer a supply of staff it does not necessarily guarantee quality.
If staff are available from the retail sector how can the industry make alternative positions in a warehouse attractive? With increased use of robotics and automation perceptions of the industry will need to be changed to attract the right staff.
The office sector is leading the way with a wellness agenda and in our view to attract the next generation of warehouse operatives industrial occupiers need to follow. The WELL Building Standard launched in 2014 by the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) is based on seven criteria including: air, light, mind, water, fitness, nourishment, innovation and comfort. As office occupiers strive to achieve this standard the logistics and industrial occupiers need to learn quickly that putting a vending machine and a pool table in the break out area is simply not enough. The “nice to have” list should be considered an investment. According to the IWBI 94% of staff are happier and more productive in WELL-Standard-certified buildings so why not strive to provide the best working conditions?
Here’s a few suggestions from the Brasier Freeth Business Space Team as to how the working environment can be improved and made more attractive to existing and prospective employees:
- Design your spaces so that employees opt into their environment and encourage collaboration between different parts of the business. Does your accountant ever speak to the fork lift truck driver?
- Provide quality spaces for team briefings that inspire workers.
- Upgrade the space, for example – the drivers/ employees entrance. Why shouldn’t their entrance be as good as your guests?
- Does your break out space look like a school dining room from the 1980’s? Install a coffee bar with soft seating, this space could double up as informal meeting room space.
- Reflect the brand. A natural foods producer client has a green wall in reception and regularly provides healthy snacks and encourages drinking water. They even go one step further and provide lunch for all employees three times a week.
Air, Light and Comfort
- Improve lighting levels.
- Monitor air quality and temperature.
- Keep maintain and clean high traffic areas such as break out areas, locker rooms & WC’s on a regular basis.
- Ensure all staff have the correct clothing and safety equipment.
Water, Fitness and Nourishment
- Do your staff get fresh air? Encourage a walk at lunchtime.
- Provide fresh fruit and promote drinking water.
- Encourage car share and cycle to work schemes.
- Are your staff lifting goods or sitting at their desks correctly?
- Offer a corporate gym membership as an incentive for workers to improve their general wellbeing.
Of course, we are not suggesting that all these points needs to be implemented and understand it isn’t always possible to achieve design improvements particularly in older style buildings. However, several of the team’s suggestions are quick wins to achieving a 5-star rating from your staff. Ultimately, the happier and healthier your workforce is, the better their productivity and your staff retention levels will be.