Building Live: Great Portland Estates and Derwent London discuss ‘wellness’ agenda

Two of London’s leading developers have admitted too little is known about how people use their office buildings and on whether or not they are realising their “wellness” ambitions for a happy and healthy workforce.

During a panel debate at Building Live, James Pellatt, Great Portland Estates’ head of projects, said: “It’s a lot easier to discuss wellbeing than it is to demonstrate wellbeing.”

He said the firm’s Rathbone Square office development (pictured) just off London’s Oxford Street - which will become Facebook’s UK HQ - will likely meet high wellbeing criteria, but to actually prove it and demonstrate it is another matter. Consequently, he said the developer and the tenant are having to work more closely together.

Pellatt added that another issue in building for the next generation of occupiers was that the “pace of the technology is outpacing the pace at which we can build the buildings. It is our challenge to pick the right ones.”

Paul Williams, director at fellow developer Derwent London, said tenants now wanted to be able to adapt the fit out of offices for different types of working.

Commenting on wellbeing, he admitted that “not enough sharing of post occupancy of data took place, but it does help direct you to what works and doesn’t work.” He said developers needed to listen to customers more.