Throughout the world, governments have added citizens’ wellbeing to the political agenda, placing it alongside economic growth as an indicator of national success, writes Andrew Kafkaris, founding partner of central London property management firm Bruton of Sloane Street.
In the UK, David Cameron introduced the Happiness Index in 2011 to assess people’s wellbeing alongside economic data such as GDP. Furthermore, four in every five people believe the government should prioritise happiness over wealth.
In the last four years alone the wellbeing industry grew by 11%, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s 2017 research. The concept and measurement of wellbeing is well established in the commercial property sector and is becoming a priority in the workplace, however it is often overlooked in the home. There is hard evidence in the commercial sector of an uplift in values as a direct result of addressing wellbeing. This can be applied to the residential sector.
It has been proven that businesses with highly satisfied, engaged employees are rewarded with lower absenteeism and higher productivity. In the home, developers who harness the potential of wellbeing offer buildings with increased resident appeal, translating into stronger occupational demand, more resilient incomes and higher capital values.
At Bruton of Sloane Street, resident’s wellbeing is at the core of our management services. We believe that by embracing and placing importance on wellbeing within building design and management, developers and landlords can enhance the happiness of occupants which will simultaneously boost the performance of the building and unlock greater values long-term.
Within the home, taking wellbeing seriously requires a fine balance of smart building techniques to maximise security, air quality and noise control (including digital noise), the living environment - providing communal spaces, connection to nature and light and service levels including wellness facilities, safety, technology, customer service and attention to detail. Incorporating these factors into buildings will create marginal gains, pioneered by the Olympic cycling team, where subtle but powerful changes to materials, training and nutrition makes all the difference when performing in a highly competitive environment.
Today, we spend more time at home than we do anywhere else. It is therefore essential that our overall wellbeing starts at home. The cultural shift towards working from home and increasing crossover between living and working spaces places even more emphasis on the home. The number of people working from home has grown by 19% over the last 10 years - in London 5.3% of London’s population work from home regularly.
Of course, the provision of amenities can result in higher service charges. To fully cater to the wellbeing requirements of residents accurate service charges need to be carefully calculated at the conception stage of any development. Buyers need to recognise that whilst services charges maybe higher, if they are helping to improve overall wellbeing and happiness then it is money well spent; and will be reflected in higher returns for investors.
When people choose a high value home in a city like London, they have a number of options to choose from. Increasingly, more people incorporate ‘wellbeing’ elements into their search criteria and expect their living environment to reflect their lifestyle philosophy. When their home is also a place for work, the stakes are raised even higher. Paying attention to these details make a substantial difference. By embracing wellbeing, homebuilders will appeal to homebuyers and renters who seek a home for life, a home which will bring them good health, happiness and contentment.