As employers recognize the link between employee health and productivity, office wellness programs and initiatives are evolving from a mere perk to a fundamental part of workplace culture and design. Extending beyond the traditional scope of healthcare, these amenities include a holistic approach towards physical, mental, and emotional health that tenants have come to expect—and owners and investors can no longer ignore.
The advantages of these programs are manifold, including improved health, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, enhanced job satisfaction, talent retention, and a competitive edge in the job market. In turn, these benefits make it more likely for businesses to renew leases or opt for a building that offers health-related perks. The key is to offer a variety of areas and facilities and consider the diversity of needs among your tenant population. Wellness offerings can be integrated into office buildings through multipurpose outdoor areas, on-site healthcare services, and access to nutritious food options.
Envisioning the future of wellness
Once upon a time, the terms “wellness” and “fitness” were synonymous, and simply having a couple treadmills in a basement would be enough to keep tenants happy. That’s no longer the case. Office wellness now encompasses a range of amenities, from fitness centers equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and offering sweeping views to outdoor multipurpose facilities for sports and games to on-site mental health support clinics. Standard elements of a wellness program may include ergonomic workstations in common spaces, healthy food options, relaxation spaces, and access to health screenings and preventive care.
The office building of the future is expected to place even greater emphasis on wellness, with trends indicating a shift from traditional gyms to more versatile wellness spaces. That said, everyone views wellness differently. Some people want space to meditate that’s quiet with essential oils filling the air, while others want to sweat it out with a pick-up game of basketball. Rooftop and outdoor spaces are now being refitted into multipurpose facilities that can host popular pickleball matches on a rooftop or private greenspaces for relaxation. If the space can reset to do both, even better.
A holistic approach to wellness
Convenience of healthcare, such as minute clinics that offer annual exams, biometric screenings, and other non-urgent services are another aspect of wellness programs. Bringing these offerings on site, where tenants can fit in a routine screening on their coffee break, is a draw and has the added benefit of keeping tenants happy and healthy.
Food and beverage services that offer greater access to healthy options, versatile spaces that can accommodate various wellness activities, and on-site healthcare services that provide convenience and reduce time away from work are all prime areas for investment. While many urban office markets are integrating fresh, healthy options, those in suburban settings too often still rely on burgers, fries and packaged foods. It’s important to pair indulgent choices with nutritious ones, creating accessible pathways to healthy eating for a holistic impact.
It’s one thing to just have a space, but people need to be shown how to use it. Programming is a key way to drive active engagement with wellness programs, such as organizing sports tournaments—whether pickleball or two-on-two basketball teams—guided nature walks, and healthy food truck visits that give tenants options without requiring a physical space to prep and serve. It’s about communicating with tenants to understand their interests and ensure they’re connected to the services they want.
Become a changemaker
Wellness is no longer a luxury but a necessity for modern workplaces, particularly for Class A assets. Whether you’re trying to scale up services for a well-occupied building to retain tenants or court new leases, multifunctional wellness amenities will continue to pay dividends for the investment. Experience management plays a pivotal role in driving these programs, ensuring that the wellness spaces are not just available but are actively utilized by employees.