Is Medibank HQ the world's healthiest building to work in?

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Medibank Place is described as being "hard-wired for health"(Credit: Hassell)

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Australia’s largest health insurer, Medibank, recently moved into a new HQ that is claimed to be one of the healthiest workplaces in the world. Medibank Place is located in the Docklands area of Melbourne. It is aimed at embodying what the company says are its preventative health and wellbeing principles.

Conceived by design firm Hassell, the building is said to place the mental and physical health of people at its heart. It is described as being "hard-wired for health."

To begin, employees are able to choose how and where they work. They are kitted out with laptops and mobile phones for mobility – this allows them to move between the 26 different types of work settings on offer at Medbanks Place. These range from indoor quiet spaces and collaborative hubs to Wi-Fi-enabled balconies and places to stand whilst working.

Not only does this sort of choice empower employees and afford them the opportunity of working in more healthy ways (such as standing), but it encourages them to move about more. With this in mind, the building's stairs are designed to be the easiest way to move between floors, again encouraging a more health-centric workplace lifestyle.

Other facilities aimed at contributing to a healthier lifestyle include special lighting in certain areas that helps to support peoples' circadian rhythms, and a multipurpose sports court for workouts. There is also an edible garden and a demonstration kitchen used to promote healthy eating.

The building's more perfunctory features have additionally been considered from a health perspective. A ramp spirals upwards from the main entrance on the street to provide easy access to bike storage, and thus encourage employees to cycle to work.

Elsewhere, there are 2,300 plants inside the building, 520 plants in modular planter boxes on the building's façade and two 25-m (82-ft)-high green walls facing the street. All this greenery is designed to help relieve stress, improve internal air quality and provide more pleasant views.

Hassell says the building's approach to health and well-being is already proving its worth. In the four months after Medibank moved in, 79 percent of employees are said to have reported that they are working more collaboratively with colleagues, 70 percent that they are healthier working at the new HQ and 66 that they are more productive. Medibank's call center is also said to have seen a 5 percent reduction in absenteeism.

Medibank Place was completed in June 2014 and the company moved into the building at the end of 2014.

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