On 29 October, Claire Bradbury, Consultant for Action Sustainability UK and the Supply Chain Sustainability School UK, and Hayley Jarick, CEO of the Supply Chain Sustainability School Australia, joined forces to run an interactive expert roundtable on wellbeing for Partner organisations. The event was hosted by Lendlease in Barangaroo, Australia.
Drawing on work within the UK School’s Wellbeing Special Interest Group, Claire spoke about good practice for the built environment, as well as outlining the emerging trends. Hayley then presented the Australian perspective on wellbeing across the sector, addressing some key challenges and focus areas. Partners shared insights on the topic, identifying priorities and interventions required internally and across their supply chains.
A comparison of the UK and Australian sectors revealed several shared challenges and opportunities. In response to changing expectations of employees, occupiers and communities, both markets have seen a shift towards flexible working practices. Additionally, wellbeing is becoming an integral part of business risk management, and is central to the operating values of many Partner organisations.
Surprisingly, across the Australian market, Partners indicated there was an absence and/or a decline of open green space in cites.
The roundtable discussions noted opportunities to harness our natural assets in a way that generates co-benefits, for example, utilising things like climate resilience, space for recreation and social interaction, air purification and enhanced biodiversity.
The group suggested a mandate for creating, improving and protecting high quality green and blue space within planning requirements would be a valuable instrument.
Although considerable work is being done to enhance wellbeing in the context of the Australian built environment, a few barriers were discussed.
Firstly, there appears to be a reluctance to report on successes in an internal and external context. Without a culture of industry collaboration and shared learning, it may be difficult to achieve progress on wellbeing at scale.
Secondly, wellbeing-related interventions may not be badged as such. Although it may relate to issues like health and safety, place-making, sustainability and job design, the link to wellbeing is not always explicitly made, making it hard to detect engagement with the wellbeing agenda.
Action on wellbeing should begin with priority-setting, for instance via materiality or heat-mapping. Language should be used carefully to highlight the complementarity of wellbeing and sustainability when articulating action. As we seek to transition towards a climate-resilient and equitable future, linking these concepts is key.
The built environment – including infrastructure, housebuilding, construction and facilities management – interacts directly and indirectly with larger systems such as health, transport and energy, so acknowledging its place in these systems could facilitate proactive and robust responses to societal wellbeing.