The Human Equation: Workplace Leaders Must Tackle Psychological Along with Physical Domains

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The Human Equation: Workplace Leaders Must Tackle Psychological Along with Physical Domains

Occupant and employee wellbeing is top of mind for workplace leaders. But it’s not just physical safety and health concerns. The mental side of the equation is also becoming much more critical. To point, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office recently released guidance on workplace mental health and well-being.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how important healthy building environments and operations are to organizations. Greater attention has been paid to indoor air quality, sanitation, and density standards. Firms, however, are now tackling something much more complex. Psychology is playing a bigger role - whether it be designing work policies and spaces that inspire employees to return to office, or ensuring remote workers are maintaining healthy conditions and lifestyles. 

It was apparent when listening to the panelists and attendees at Verdantix’s Innovating For Safe And Sustainable Operations Summit held in October that EHS, facilities, and workplace leaders have some common challenges and opportunities to address. Avoiding burnout, ensuring worker satisfaction and, as a whole, understanding and addressing the needs of individuals is driving a more empathetic, human-centered approach to work and the built environment. To drive better outcomes:

  • Data must be shared. Systems used within different workplace disciplines can be valuable to others. Data from sensors and imaging, access and security, event and work orders and more can be shared and integrated into EHS, ESG, and Smart Building analytics platforms to facilitate operations and decision making. Behavioral patterns are embedded throughout, and more insights can be gleaned by combining different data sets. 
  • Workers must be better informed and enabled. Putting information in the hands of employees is crucial to them making safe, healthy, and productive decisions on a day-to-day basis. Technology can provide employees with more autonomy, which leads to higher levels of satisfaction. Mobile applications that aid a workforce on the go are becoming more prevalent. Yet, care must also be taken to not overwhelm employees with highly fragmented data and experiences. Coordination between departments should help unearth opportunities to integrate information and workflows.
  • Lines of communication must be open and often. Engaging employees and gleaning feedback on the workplace environment as to what is working and what needs to improve should happen on an ongoing basis. Waiting for incidents to occur, or helpdesk tickets to roll in, is too reactive. Proactive outreach and wellness checks done personally with individuals is important. 
  • Workspaces need to factor the human condition. Unsatisfactory noise, light, temperature, and comfort levels are common issues employees encounter, whether in an office or on a plant floor. Providing spaces and opportunities for individuals to connect with others – that social experience – is also an important feature that more organizations are factoring into their space designs. Making use of technology to provide equitable work experiences, no matter where one is physically situated, is also a growing concern with hybrid work.


While EHS systems have historically addressed worker processes and industry requirements, smart building operations are inherently complementary. Most importantly, employees and occupants are touched by all these systems and practices. A more people- versus functional- centric view of the workplace, and what makes individuals productive and safe, is crucial.

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Sandy Rogers

Principal Analyst

Sandy is a Principal Analyst in the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. Her current research agenda focuses on the intersection of IT and OT digital strategies and technologies, including the IoT landscape. Sandy’s experience prior to joining Verdantix includes work as a research director and technology industry analyst in IT service technologies and operations at Forrester, and at IDC, where she covered software, vertical markets and web services. Sandy has worked in competitive research and strategy consulting at Fuld & Company and developed research for thought-leadership at Deloitte. She holds a Business Degree in Marketing and Management Science from the University of Rhode Island.