Office Space: Working Well

CBRE Group puts employee wellness first at its Vancouver premises

Credit: Courtesy CBRE

Upstairs, Downstairs: To keep staff moving, an internal stairway connects all four floors, and elevator access to the two middle ones is cut off for anyone physically able to use the stairs

CBRE Group’s Vancouver office is the first workplace in B.C. to achieve Well Building Standard certification

“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” That message is inscribed at the base of the staircase in the Vancouver office of CBRE Group Inc., a global real estate services firm headquartered in Los Angeles. Encouraging physical activity is one reason the workspace has received Well Building Standard certification, which measures the effect of office design on employees’ health and wellness. The International Well Building Institute, based in New York, assessed the interior across seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. CBRE’s 28,000-square-foot office, which occupies four floors in Oxford Properties Group’s MNP Tower at 1021 West Hastings Street, is also the first multifloor certification in Canada. The Vancouver branch of Chicago-based global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will Inc. designed the project.

Credit: Courtesy CBRE

Boardroom With a View: An electric current running through the glass wall of the boardroom changes it from opaque for privacy to clear for daylight and views when the room isn’t in use

Three years ago, with several leases due to expire across Canada, CBRE began rethinking the design of its offices. “We know how important the workplace is to our employees,” says Ashley O’Neill, CBRE’s VP, corporate strategy, Canada. “And being real estate advisers, we wanted to also be a showcase for what’s possible for our clients.”

Credit: Courtesy CBRE

Let There Be Light: No desk is more than 25 feet from a window with natural light—Well Building Standard requirements aim to minimize disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm

Moving from one floorplate to four means that all 124 employees now sit near a window. Everyone from new hires to senior executives has the same setup: a sit-stand desk with two monitors on adjustable arms, a laptop, a docking station and a wireless headset so they can easily move to other locations. There is carbon-filtered water within 100 feet of workstations to encourage better hydration.

Credit: Courtesy CBRE

Huddle Space: This meeting room gets the most use. Loren Bergmann, CBRE’s head of workplace strategies for Western Canada, suspects it’s because the table height accommodates sitting or standing

Numerous soundproof meeting and telephone rooms break up the space, which helps with acoustics in general as well as removing the distraction of people talking. Among more than 100 wellness features, CBRE upgraded the ceiling tiles to increase noise absorption and installed white-noise diodes throughout the office to dampen background sounds.

Credit: Courtesy CBRE

Café Culture Coffee and a communal café in one central location encourage staff to leave their desks and eat meals together

“We want to be a leading adviser in real estate,” O’Neill says. “We want to have the best talent and retain and attract the best teams. It made sense to jump in with two feet.”