Workplace wellness, the new normal 


    PROPERTY consultancy Colliers has crafted suggestions on how to prioritize workplace wellness in current working conditions due to the lockdowns imposed in the country,.

    Victoria Gilbert, sustainability and wellness consultant at Colliers International Asia Pacific, recommends workplace wellness should be prioritized and integrated in organizations as early as now and even after the crisis subsides.

    In the article Workplace Wellness – What Effects is COVID-19 Having in the Workplace? ,  Gilbert cited the need to focus business continuity and preparedness and well-being of employees in crafting a proper wellness policy in the workplace.

    In the article, Gilbert said wellness is no longer just a corporate social responsibility consideration but a strategic priority for companies as well.

    For instance, companies which invest in a healthier business environment for their people often have employees who are physically and mentally healthy. A healthy employee is more likely to be productive and happy at work which ultimately helps to ensure business continuity and protects the company’s bottom line both in the immediate term and in the long run.

    She pointed to the following realizable wellness benefits of securing a strategic business continuity plan (BCP) location.

    One is convenience for employees.

    Employees who take a long commute daily now have the option to work in an office more accessible from their homes.

    Colliers said one of the companies in Makati City it has been engaging with expressed their interest in diversifying their location base and is now considering places like Quezon City for business continuity preparedness. The client also explained that this setup also gives flexibility to their employees, who are mostly out on fieldwork, in terms of choosing the more accessible office premises to report to.

    Should there be a calamity that disrupts or halts operations in one site, having a separate office location allows a company to keep the business running and recover more quickly. The BCP also ensures that wellness initiatives the company have already set in place will be protected and retained on an organizational wide basis.

    Two is well-being of employees. Colliers said businesses should take measures to ensure  employees are healthy, motivated, and productive.

    Gilbert identified five key areas which occupiers and landlords can consider as they cope and manage the threats of the virus in the workplace: physical distancing; boost immunity; managing air quality  and most importantly, preparing for disruption.

    Local companies are planning for a staggered return of their employees to their workplace to minimize risk of contracting the virus as some areas go into general community quarantine where some industries are allowed to operate.

    Colliers believes employers should give their employee flexibility on their work arrangements while the virus is still prevalent.

    It cited a report by McKinsey which recommended reduction in shifts and in pace of workers and departments in the workplace.

    Admitting that several of the recommendations  will likely translate to additional costs for a company. Kevin Jara, senior manager for Tenant Representation at Colliers International Philippines said these measures are ultimately investments for companies that will lead to long-term benefits including improved employee morale, wellbeing and productivity.”

    Several developers in the Philippines have recognized the significance of having a healthy work environment prior to the advance of COVID-19 and have invested in putting health and wellness certification systems in place such as the LEED Certification, and the WELL Building Standard.

    With the growing consciousness towards health and well-being increasing demand for “greener” buildings, several upcoming office developments are now geared with sustainable and lifestyle-focused amenities.

    Colliers sees  occupiers will be inclined to integrate a wellness-focused environment moving forward not only during but eventually after the threats of the virus subside.

    More and more organizations are emphasizing the well-being of their employees in their company cultures and investing to create a healthier work experience for their people.

    Developers and landlords are encouraged to look in on the possibilities of having healthy workplaces as the new normal in office requirements after the ECQ period.