Wellness and Wellbeing – Part Three

This article continues the conversation that began with the first “Wellness and Wellbeing” note in late February and continued with “Wellness and Wellbeing-Part Two” last week.

Here we focus on some differences between the United States and Europe in dealing with wellness and wellbeing. If you have not read the first two parts of this series I encourage you to click on the links above and spend a few minutes catching up with the beginning of this conversation (which took place on February 6, 2014) as part of my monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” series.

Erik Jaspers [Planon]: First, I must say I was a little surprised about the short conversation about Medicare and putting that in the perspective of wellness and wellbeing. I’m from Europe, and we don’t have this conversation, and certainly not in that context.

I have a question because I’m a newcomer in this area. How would you go about measuring results or determining the effectiveness of what you’ve been trying to achieve in these types of projects? How do you measure wellness in the larger context of an organization? Read more

Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace – Part Two

This post continues the conversation that began with the “Wellness and Wellbeing” note last week. If you haven’t yet read that post, I suggest you click on the link and read it now, before proceeding with this one.

Here we pick up with Kate Lister’s overview of the biggest issues surrounding wellness and wellbeing in the workplace.

Kate Lister [Global Workplace Analytics]:

As I suggested earlier, there are two sides of this issue: the physical and the psychological. Not surprisingly, the organizations that are focusing most on wellness are those in the healthcare business.

The cost of absenteeism goes far beyond the direct costs which are estimated at about 6% of payroll. But when you consider the indirect costs, including insurance, the total is more like 20% of payroll.

On the psychological side, there are a variety of problems that impact employee performance such as addiction, depression, stress, and the like. And poor mental health often leads to poor physical health and vice-versa.

Then there’s the problem of “presenteeism,” where people come to work sick because they don’t et paid for sick days, they feel guilty about letting their co-workers down, or there’s simply a culture that frowns on taking time off, regardless of the reason. So what do they do? They come to work sick. They sit at their desk not getting much done. And they go home at the end of the having spread their germ among their colleagues.

Healthways recently did a wellness study for a Fortune 500 company. When they asked employees if they’d lost productivity due to working while they were sick, 86% said “yes.” The study also showed that people with wellness issues are less productive and more likely to leave.

The study reported that for each $1 of medical costs, the company lost another $2.30 because of reduced productivity. Read more

Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace

This article marks the beginning of a slight change in my Future of Work Agenda newsletter publishing plans. Some time ago I simplified the newsletter format, sharing a single thought piece with you about once a month. Now I am committing to a more frequent schedule, with the goal of condensing my rants and ramblings to an even shorter format (and I have also integrated the newsletter more tightly with the blog).

What follows here is the first post of a three-part series on Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace. Look for Part Two a week from now.


As some of you know, I host a monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” conversation with about twenty very smart thought leaders and practitioners. We have common interests in the changing nature of work, the workforce, and the workplace – and how to manage the future of work. We exchange ideas, concerns, and visions of the future as a way of keeping all of us sharp and well-informed.

Recently we spent an hour together (virtually, of course) exploring wellness and well-being in the workplace. It’s a topic that is getting a lot of well-deserved attention in many places these days. There’s no way I can adequately summarize the totality of that conversation, but I’d like to share some of the highlights here.

Thus, this is the first of several “chapters” in that particular conversation. What follows is an edited synopsis of what I found to be the most interesting comments and questions raised by several of the group members (all of those quoted here have granted me permission to share their contributions to the conversation). Read more

Space Planning: That Was Then, This is Now

Several years ago at one of our private client network gatherings Ed Nolan, then a senior real estate executive with Hewlett Packard, commented on how different (and difficult) space planning had become since he started his career many years ago.

His point was simple, but profound: when everyone had an assigned workplace, and was there everyday, space planning was a really simple exercise in arithmetic: the number of people in the building times the square feet per person plus conference rooms and other common space. [continue reading...]

“Sitting May be the New Smoking”

That’s what a business colleague said a few weeks ago in a conversation we were having about setting up our home offices – and finding the right desk and chair. We were both concerned about the health aspects of sitting all day; he very rightly advised me to be sure to get up and walk around on a regular basis.

I’ve had some back and neck pain in the past, and have even had some physical therapy sessions that have helped me work on my posture. More recently I’ve worked with a trainer and am lifting weights (light ones!) to strengthen my back, neck, shoulders. I’m doing much better – and am much more aware of the need for both good posture and frequent getting up and moving around.

Read more

The Future of the Workplace

IFMA Spain held a Facilities/Workplace Summit in Madrid on the 3rd of October. The principal organizer of the conferece, Francisco Vazquez Medem, asked me to submit some advance commentary on the future of the workplace (I could not attend in person, as I was participating actively in World Workplace 2013 in Philadelphia).

I sent Francisco and the Madrid attendees this brief video comment, now available on YouTube:

I would love to hear your reactions and further comments. [continue reading...]

Six Strategies for Enhancing Your Workplace

Note: I am just back from a very full week at IFMA’s World Workplace 2013, in Philadelphia., where I reconnected with lots of long-time friends and made many new ones. Look for a series of reports and reflections over the next several days/weeks.

We were particularly pleased to spend time at World Workplace with Steven Sonsino, the co-author (with Jacqueline Moore) of Leadership FM, a new book calling for completely rethinking the role of facilities and facilities management (FM) in organizations (by the way, Steven’s view is very similar to my own, as reported in 2012 in the RICS white paper, “Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of FM” – free registration required to download the report). [continue reading...]

Redesigning the Newsletter

I’m back.

Actually, I haven’t really gone anywhere, except that a few months ago my wife and I did move our residence , which includes my home office; the move was just 15 miles but it might as well have been 1500. As many of you corporate folks know, a physical move (especially after 17 years in the same place) is traumatic and time-consuming at best.

But the fact is that, like many of you, I’ve been completely overwhelmed just keeping up with everyday emails, contacts, presentations, client projects, new technologies, future-scanning, meetings, and personal development efforts. I worry that the future of work is going to keep on being like this – forevermore.

Read more

Defining a New Vision and Role for Facilities Management

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of facilities professionals at the June luncheon meeting of the Houston Chapter of IFMA (International Facilities Management Association).

My topic was “Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of Facilities Management.” That’s the title of a research project that Paul Carder and I led in 2o12 for RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). We did the research in our respective roles as Managing Director (Paul) and Global Research Director (me) of Occupiers Journal Limited, the publisher of Work & Place .

Read more

What are the best examples you know of workplace innovation?

There are two things we know for sure about the future of work:

  1. It will be more distributed and mobile; and
  2. It will be more collaborative

Those two trends create some interesting and important tensions; they are not incompatible, but they do point in different directions.

I’m gathering examples of innovative workplaces and work programs for a talk I’ll be delivering in March to a group of senior workplace executives. [continue reading...]