What is WELL? (and could it could be the future of your workplace)

uqs1802d0cq-katie-smithWellness has been dubbed the next trillion dollar industry by consultants around the globe, but what does “wellness in the workplace” actually mean?  Once you figure out the answer to that question, an even bigger one pops up “how do you measure it?”  A daunting task along the lines of trying to measure productivity….

Measuring how many 1’s and 0’s you generate each day might be a few light years off in the distance, but a group called the International Well Being Institute (initially Delos) has tried to  at least set a baseline by creating the WELL standard.  Launching in 2014 and Self described as a “system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being…” the standard pulls a few lessons from the LEED interiors playbook and adds nutrition, air, water, and other wellness based requirements.

LEED points = Well categories

LEED includes points for air quality, light, and comfort…. WELL turns these LEED IAQ/comfort points into entire categories or “concepts.”

Optional LEED credits = WELL requirements

Optional IAQ credits within LEED become pre-requisites for WELL, such as a limit on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) used during the construction process.

Food? Isn’t this a building standard?

Placement of salad bars, safe preparation of food, clear marking of nutritional information, and advertising of healthy over the alternative are all part of the pathway to WELL. Most requirements in this section are about effective labeling rather than limiting choice, but there is a section on limiting sugary beverages to less than 30g per serving (goodbye coca-cola!). Oh and there is a ban on trans-fats.


Cut the Noise

While the trend seems to be rocking out to music in order to drown out the sounds of a coworker chatting away, one of my favorite areas of WELL is how it addresses the scourge of open plan offices…  noise! both internal sounds and external.   In total, there are 7 separate points addressing noise limits, from reverberation to noise masking… WELL seeks to limit one of the largest areas of concern raised by employees.

Required napping areas….

Need I say more?



Some areas will be tough for large companies to implement…. as there are service provider agreements in place which need to be updated and HR/travel policies to rethink…. But WELL takes a step and sets a bold standard to measure. It’s about moderate standards of the environment are provided and employees are able to make informed choices on their food, health, and exercise choices. Implemented in conjunction with LEED, it creates an environment that is measurable and likely lends to a happier, healthier, and more informed workplace. Now we just need to figure out how to measure productivity…..



Click to access The%20WELL%20Building%20Standard_v1%20with%20October%202016%20addenda.pdf







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