Charter Hall has been on a wellness journey for some time and, this year, it culminated in a significant achievement when our Melbourne and Perth offices achieved the WELL Certified™ Silver Interiors rating from the International WELL Building Institute. The first WELL rating to be achieved in WA and the first Interiors rating in VIC, this certification enabled formal recognition of our approach in our workplaces and demonstrated to our people the benefits of our new way of working.
The International WELL Building Institute Certification is underpinned by seven key principles: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The notion is that, by integrating these elements into workplaces, we can create a healthy and productive work environment that enables people to bring their whole selves to work. The certification not only looks at the physical environment, but also considers procurement practices, office systems, employee benefits and broader policies and processes.
We embraced the opportunity to apply the WELL principles when designing and fitting out new office spaces for our Melbourne and Perth teams. As well as meeting the seven elements of WELL, the design of spaces also had to reflect local characteristics of each region. Throughout the process, we worked closely with our employees to help them understand what makes a healthy workplace–from good air quality to the right cleaning products and employee snacks. We did encounter some challenges along the way, such as the initial changeover from biscuits to healthy snacks such as fruit. However, these changes have now been positively embraced by employees, who appreciate the company’s new healthy outlook.
The introduction of a Wellbeing Day was particularly well received, and employees have also responded well to opportunities to participate in a range of healthy initiatives such as Ritualize, all of which further contribute to positive behavioural change. Post occupancy, we sought formal feedback on the new workspaces and fit–outs through a University of Sydney BOSSA survey. The Perth survey was very positive, with no negative employee comments on the environmental aspects of the workspace. In Melbourne, the survey identified issues with air temperature and acoustics. Actions were taken to resolve these issues, including introducing ‘Comfy’ into the space, which enables employees to personally adjust temperatures. All survey results were shared with employees and our ongoing improvements continue to involve extensive employee engagement.
Our implementation of WELL has enabled a consistent national approach to our employee offering in our state regional offices, such as fruit and vegetables, snacks, cleaning products, wellbeing programs and benefits. We have identified the key to success in the creation of healthy workplaces is employee and customer engagement throughout the design, delivery and post occupancy of our spaces. As we embark on rating our other tenancies and wider portfolio, we plan to continue seeking feedback and making ongoing improvements. We will be seeking a WELL Core and Shell rating on all Charter Hall office developments, and we are one of 14 companies worldwide participating in the WELL Portfolio pilot with some buildings in our Charter Hall Office Trust (CHOT) portfolio.