The public release of Fitwel at the end of 2016 prompted Elementa Consulting Principal, Edward Garrod to become the first Fitwel Ambassador outside of North America. Elementa Consulting are the UK arm of international ‘deep green engineering’ practice Integral Group.
As soon as Integral Group became a Fitwel Champion in early 2017, Garrod challenged his team to a new and compelling goal – a sprint to submit for a Fitwel rating within just six weeks.
With a successful end-result, Elementa Consulting’s London Office became the first Fitwel certified workplace in Europe in March 2017.
Using his experience applied at 80 Cheapside, Ed Garrod shares a Fitwel Roadmap that can be applied to any workplace:
1. Every Workplace is Welcome
There are no mandatory requirements in Fitwel that would exclude a workplace from participating.
Fitwel can be used in existing workplaces of any age, or as part of the design process for new buildings and fit-outs. Although Fitwel was developed in the USA it is designed to work in any country without additional work. Parts of Fitwel that don’t apply to your workplace don’t count against your final rating.
2. Get up to Speed and Form a Team
Two choices here: either work with an existing Fitwel Ambassador or join the ‘Embassy’ by training to become a Fitwel Ambassador. The course costs $250, requires you to commit to a day of self-directed online training, followed by a multiple choice exam. Health and Wellbeing is a team sport. You’ll need to assemble a core team of 3 to at most 5 people to spread the load and to motivate one another without becoming too cumbersome.
3. Take a Health Check
Fitwel Ambassadors have access to the Fitwel App where they can work with Fitwel’s Digital Scorecard.
The platform also provides a simple pdf checklist that can be used to perform a quick and free ‘health check’ before registering your project. This first pass will flag up features and policies that could be improved in your workplace. Each Fitwel strategy has a weighted value which helps draw attention to actions with the greatest potential benefit.
4. Present your Diagnosis and Secure a Budget
Your Fitwel Health Check will give you a powerful case for your Fitwel Ambassador to present to decision makers in your organisation. Your audience is important – include human resources, finance and operational leads, as they will all be positively impacted by a focused health and wellbeing initiative. Winning them over will help to secure a project budget for health and wellbeing.
5. Identify Priorities and Develop Strategies
Whatever budget you are working to you’ll be able to identify a range of high impact, no-cost and low-cost measures that can work for your organisation and office. I’d recommend preparing a brief slide deck to explain your plans to your organisation’s leadership, and to get approval to register your project via the Fitwel App. Registration costs $500 and will give you enable you to access the full Digital Scorecard for your project.
6. Make a Public Commitment and Set a Hard Deadline
If you make a commitment in public to go for a Fitwel Rating you’re far more likely to follow through than if the initiative is kept quiet. You’ll be surprised how many people will volunteer their time to help you once they hear about your plans. Our healthy office strategy was delivered in two sprints tied to hard, immovable deadlines that focused attention and effort.
7. Engage Everyone Early and Make Friends with Your Building
Buy-in is critical to success. Our original wellbeing initiative was pitched to the entire office. We sought feedback in meetings and through online survey tools. This engagement created enthusiasm and support for the project, refined our ideas and gave everyone a stake in the outcome. If you don’t own or manage your building it’s time to engage here too. Once an Asset Manager, Building Manager and your fellow tenants understand what you’re trying to achieve you’ll be surprised at how helpful they will be. Health and Wellbeing is …. infectious.
8. Don’t Get Lost in the Detail – Work in Bite-Sized Chunks
Fitwel is light on paperwork yet rigorous. If you can demonstrate that you have met Fitwel criteria through a photo, or a marked up plan, the chances are that you’ll be able to upload that as evidence. This means that you can break your submission down into bite-sized chunks that can be easily tackled in a spare half hour in your day.
9. Maintain Momentum
As you make progress towards achieving Fitwel requirements update your scorecard and track your Fitwel Score. You’ll be able to automatically generate reports based on your Fitwel Ambassador’s assessment of whether you’ve met Fitwel’s requirements for the strategies you are pursuing. Keep your organisation posted on how you’re doing to maintain your momentum.
10. Integrate and Embed
Fitwel rewards the implementation of procedures and policies that protect health and wellbeing, for example around pest control, air quality management, and purchasing. Examples of good practice and guidance are signposted within the Fitwel App. You’ll be able to source examples and templates through a web search and use these as a starting point for developing documents that are tailored to your situation. As Elementa are already certified to ISO 9001 and 14001 standards it was easy for us to integrate and embed Fitwel requirements into our existing management systems. This integration also ensures that our Fitwel commitments will be regularly reviewed and audited in future.
11. Ready to Submit?
Upload your documents, click submit, pay your review fees (currently an additional $6,000) and have the team at CfAD review your evidence base. CfAD aim to turnaround reviews in around 6 weeks and engage with teams directly to resolve any issues that crop up.
12. Keep Going!
Your project stays on Fitwel’s App for as long as you choose. We will be updating our performance over the long term as part of our commitment to continual improvement of health and wellbeing in our office.