According to recent survey,The Human Spaces Report, employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13% higher level of well-being and are 8% more productive overall.
The study looked at the impact of the work environment on employee well-being across 3600 office workers across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The study was commissioned by global modular flooring experts, Interface and led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper.
The survey reported that 63% of office workers are now based in towns or city centres and spend on average 34 hours per week in the office, therefore interactions with nature is becoming increasingly limited.
Interestingly, 40% of workers said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 31% would feel most productive at their own desk in an open plan office.
Shockingly, 42% of office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half (55%) don’t have access to any greenery in their working environment and even 7% of workers have no window in their workspace. Spain reported the highest number of office employees with no window (15%), and also had the most stressed workforce. In contrast, Germany and Denmark reported the least number of workers with no windows (2% and 3% respectively), and had the happiest workforce.
Furthermore, 55% of workers believed that nature has not be incorporated into their work environment, even though reports have shown that if nature has a clear impact on productivity, well being, job satisfaction and motivation. It was also reported that people are often unconscious of these factors and how it is effecting them, but the truth is it is having an impact on their work life.
“The work environment has always been recognised as essential to employee well-being and performance but often purely as a ‘hygiene factor’,” remarked Cooper. “The report clearly illustrates the connection between the impact of working environments and productivity. It’s no coincidence that the most modern employers now take a new view, designing environments to help people thrive, collaborate and be creative. Being connected to nature and the outside world, biophilic design, to give it its real name, is a big part of that.”
The research findings have implications for design in the office space, according to Mandy Leeming, design and development manager (UK) at Interface. “Contact with nature and design elements which mimic natural materials has been shown to positively impact health, performance and concentration, and reduce anxiety and stress. When it comes to creating office spaces that achieve this, it’s about taking the nuances of nature that we subconsciously respond to, such as colors and textures, and interpreting them. Ultimately improving the well-being, productivity and creativity of the workforce is key to the success of market leading organisations.”
EMEA workers listed the following top five natural elements on their wish list for their ideal office space:
- Natural light
- Quiet working space
- A view of the sea
- Live indoor plants
- Bright colours