Human Spaces

Spaces designed with the human in mind

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Are nature-starved offices affecting employee well-being?

This month I published The Human Spaces study into the impact of the workplace on employee well-being on behalf of Interface. Covering 3,600 office workers in eight countries across Europe we examined the current state of the work environment and its effect on performance and health. The results were surprising and worrying in equal measure.

We found up to two fifths of European office employees have no natural light in their working environment, more than half don’t have access to any greenery in their office, and seven per cent don’t have a window in the workplace. Shockingly, we found that Spain, the country that reported the highest number of employees with no window (15 per cent), had the most stressed workforce.

Employees working in environments that offer natural design elements, such as sunlight, plants and water features, on the other hand, reported a 13 per cent higher level of well-being than their nature-starved counterparts. They were discovered to be eight per cent more productive as well.

This indicates that, despite so many office workers living in city-dominated lives, with increasingly limited access to natural elements, they all share an affinity with the natural world. No matter where they are, people yearn for more natural light, peace and quiet, and most importantly, the chance to be closer to nature.

It follows, then, that businesses that boast offices with design elements inspired by nature, such as more natural light and greenery, will have employees that are happier and more productive at work, and perhaps healthier too.

For a long time now, employers have recognised the importance of a clean and hygienic work environment to team well-being and performance – factors that can only have a negative impact if organisations get it wrong. However, increasingly, modern employers are designing workspaces specifically to help their teams thrive, collaborate and be more creative.

As the Human Spaces report shows, being connected to natural elements is a big part of that, and it is important for businesses, regardless of their industry to have access to the latest research and best practice examples to ensure they are doing all they can to safeguard employee health and well-being at work.

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