October 24, 2014
Almost half (42%) of European office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half (55%) don’t have access to any greenery and 7 per cent have no window in their workspace. Yet according to the findings of The Human Spaces Report, commissioned by Interface and led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, European employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13 per cent higher level of well-being and are 8 per cent more productive overall. With nearly two-thirds (63%) of EMEA office workers now based in either a town or city centre and spending on average 34 hours per week in the office, their interaction with nature is becoming increasingly limited. Yet despite city dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity to elements that reflect nature. Flexible working was a surprisingly low preference, with just 11 per cent of workers choosing a space that suits their needs as their productive way to work..
The academic study looked at the impact of the physical office environment on employee well-being across 3600 office workers in eight countries throughout EMEA.
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.
Interestingly, 40 per cent of workers across EMEA said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 31 per cent would feel most productive at their own desk in an open plan office.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper said: “The work environment has always been recognised as essential to employee well-being and performance but often purely as a ‘hygiene factor’. The Human Spaces 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 top five natural elements EMEA office workers put on their wish list for their ideal office space:
- Natural light
- Quiet working space
- A view of the sea
- Live indoor plants
- Bright colours
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,” said Mandy Leeming, Design and Development Manager (UK) at Interface.
“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 colours and textures, and interpreting them.”