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Marks & Spencer has developed the ‘ideal’ working environment for all colleagues, which helps to promote greater health and wellbeing.

The best conditions, according to our recent research reviewing the impact of the physical working environment on the health and wellbeing of colleagues, include safe access to and from the store, better cycle storage, greater amounts of daylight and improved look and feel of the internal space. These findings have contributed to the UK Green Building Council’s Wellbeing Lab: Retail, a wider collaborative research programme designed to look at ways to improve the health, wellbeing and productivity of workers in the retail sector.  

M&S has previously identified the link between greater employee health and wellbeing, and increases in customer satisfaction in stores. This signifies that green buildings are not only beneficial to the wider environment, but a smart building designed with employee satisfaction in mind can lead to greater customer experiences and help to drive business and sales.  

Over the last nine months and as part of the Wellbeing Lab, we have worked with The Crown Estate (one of our landlords) and BuroHappold (engineering consultancy) to review both the internal store environment of eight M&S stores across England, and the external spaces around stores that typically fall under the responsibility of the landlord.

The results reinforced the understanding that there is a direct link between the working environments of colleagues and their overall levels of satisfaction, with colleagues who rated their working space highly also tending to rate their employee satisfaction equally high.

Following this, the team were able to understand the most important space requirements according to colleagues, and what an ‘ideal’ day might look like which provides the greatest support for wellbeing in the workplace.

Safety and security was the leading physical working space requirement, according to a series of surveys undertaken by the team, followed closely by amenities for breaks and lighting. Cycle space, well sized lockers and a working space with adequate temperature control all feature prominently in what an ideal day of a retail worker might look like, and the full results can be seen in Figures 1, 2 and 3. The project has resulted in a greater understanding of the specific requirements regarding physical working space for employees in the retail sector and the effects that an environment specifically targeted at boosting health and wellbeing can have. The challenge for retailers now, including M&S, is to understand what the findings mean for each retailer specifically and how best to implement these findings across store estates, given the tangible link between boosting colleague wellbeing and driving customer satisfaction. 

Figure 1

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

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