Balancing Act: The Intersection of Tech and Wellness in Mixed-Use Developments

Balancing Act: The Intersection of Tech and Wellness in Mixed-Use Developments

The link between wellness, productivity, and happiness is indisputable, with a recent report, entitled The State of Work-Life Wellness, claiming that “well-being is the holistic outcome of our occupational, physical, emotional, social, financial, intellectual, spiritual, and environmental wellness.”

It’s no wonder that well-being is now highly prioritised in mixed-use developments.

Couple that with technological developments to enhance those spaces – and we’re entering an era of true work-life balance.

This article explores how technology facilitates wellness in mixed-use buildings.

Wellness trends in mixed-use spaces

As companies continue to entice people back into the office, it’s commonplace for flexible workspaces to include a wellness space, or coworking spaces to strike partnerships with local wellbeing brands. This is a major talent attraction – with a global JLL survey finding that “more than two-thirds of people put achieving a good quality of life ahead of salary in terms of their work prioritises.” Scott Homa, Head of Property Sectors Research for JLL Americas, explains how “co-locating fitness with flex space means users can prioritise health and wellness alongside their professional careers.” For instance, The Ministry (a Nexudus customer), offers 150 health classes every week.

But it’s not just workspaces that offer wellness amenities. Gyms, workout rooms, Yoga studios, and meditation suites are must-have offerings in many high-end hospitality spaces, including coliving spaces, residential apartments, and Member’s Clubs. With certain mixed-use developments operating an open-door policy, technology becomes beneficial when managing access to spaces, ensuring everyone’s safety and security.

With access control technology, as an example, users can simply tap in and out of spaces, depending on their membership type. For instance, coliving spaces with coworking amenities might restrict access to wellness suites for coliving residents, as opposed to day visitors or coworking members. Access control, integrated within a centralised system, not only helps manage access, it’s hugely beneficial in understanding space popularity. Upsell your wellness offerings even further using an app where members can seamlessly book events.

In mixed-use developments, current trending wellness offerings include meditation suites, mindfulness, and Yoga spaces, gym and fitness classes, outdoor classes (such as running clubs and boot camps), and spa treatments. Classes made bookable online increase sales, making them accessible to non-members, while opening the doors to local residents.

Wellbeing in the built environment

Although well-being is typically associated with fitness, mindfulness, and healthy eating (as examples), the fundamentals of good well-being can be found in the built environment. According to the UK Parliament, “people spend 80-90% of their time indoors” – exposure to dangerous indoor pollutants, like unhealthy building materials and dodgy heating appliances, can lead to “an increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular illness, cognitive impairment and certain cancers.”

Installing buildings with smart technology monitors space conditions. For example, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) sensors and intelligent Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems manage air quality, either by the touch of a button or remotely via an app.

Technology facilitates improved diversity in spaces too. For instance, installing noise control technology and sensor lighting can support members of the neurodiverse community (who generally feel overwhelmed in loud, bright spaces, causing them to avoid social, shared spaces altogether). Thanks to technological advancements, the impact of adapting shared environments not only brings positive impacts on people’s health but also makes spaces more welcoming and inclusive.

Building materials can be considered too. For example, The Black & White Building in Shoreditch (managed by FORA) has wellness written all over it, as it’s built almost completely with sustainable timber materials. With “over a third less embodied carbon than comparable six-storey structures,” the project designers believe that the timber element makes “people feel happier and more productive” working there. Timber louvres clad the exterior glass “to provide a natural shade, reducing solar gain on the facade while boosting the reach of light to the interior.” Access to natural light is far better for our well-being than artificial lighting, improving circadian rhythms, and boosting happiness and Vitamin D production.

Curating that human interaction

While hanging out in a healthy building is important, a good vibe can never be created in an empty building. Those all-important connections, collaborations, and communities make a huge difference in the experience of a place. To make those possible, developers can enlist their trusted designers to curate meeting points for people within a space. For instance, a communal kitchen encourages coliving residents to cook amongst one another, sparking conversation and friendships to flourish. Installing a staircase as a main feature in a workspace encourages people to take the stairs (and crossover with one another), rather than the lift. There are obviously physical health benefits in the latter’s approach too.

Expanding on the relationship between workspaces and wellbeing, Camille Herinckx stresses the importance of wellness-first workspaces in mitigating the risks of loneliness, which “could have the same impact on your health as smoking a whopping 15 cigarettes a day.” Her recommendations include facilitating a super-connected work environment, complete with uber-fast WIFI, audiovisual technology, and workspace apps. This isn’t limited to workspaces, because any hospitality space benefits from enabling these technologies.

The virtual space is an equally important facilitator for connection. In essence, it's a digital space where people meet, network, and engage with your brand (even when members aren’t using your spaces, like when a digital nomad is travelling to another country, but will keep coming back to your coliving space as a base). Virtual communication technology, like discussion boards, communication channels, or specific online events, facilitates those connections across the physical and virtual, ultimately enhancing well-being by fighting off loneliness and creating happy, memorable experiences.

The future of tech-enabled wellbeing spaces

This wellness-first approach in mixed-use development ultimately transforms how we live, work, and connect. By prioritising holistic well-being, creating mood-boosting environments and supporting physical and mental health, the current wellness movement not only improves productivity and happiness, but it also forges a sense of community and inclusivity as well. As technology continues to evolve, its role in optimising wellness amenities will only become more significant, driving the future of urban living toward greater health and harmony.

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