Flexibility key for buildings to promote good mental health

Mental health should be top of the priority list and there are different options to choose, whether you are building a bricks-and-mortar store or an office building.

So says Thimon De Jong, founder, of human behaviour think tank Whetston Strategic Foresight.

De Jong, who appeared at the recent ULI conference in Brussels, said that it is important to realise that there had not been sufficient time to recuperate from Covid before other crises intervened, notably, the global recession and climate crisis. “From a mental health perspective we are not in the best of places,” de Jong said.

“It’s great if you have a sustainable city and bike lanes and everything’s green and it’s a carbon neutral building, but are the people happy that live inside?”

He said that one of the key things that people want is flexibility. He explained that people want flexibility because it enables them to deal with uncertainty which provides peace of mind which means improved mental health.

“If you’re mentally not in a good place, you’re uncertain, you have anxieties, then if you have a home or office space that is flexible, if things change you want to know you can rearrange your home, or that you can work from a hub or an office or can work from home.”

But he added that young people are frustrated with their employers and their governments.

 “The majority of under-25s are actually suffering from climate anxiety. They’re laying awake at night, they’re thinking about it daily and they want action. Talking about it, putting it in your mission statement and your purpose, that’s all great. But where’s the action?” de Jong said.

“They’re quite an activist generation. It’s a street protesting generation and they demand action,” he said adding that this generation is now entering the workforce. “If you don’t do enough, they’re gone,” he warned.

Click on the video to watch the full interview or listen to the podcast below.