Canadian Manufacturing

Plants, windows can boost office productivity, says study

Despite city-dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity for elements that reflect nature



LAGRANGE, Ga.—A recent study shows that employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 per cent higher level of well being, are six per cent more productive and 15 per cent more creative overall.

Globally, 47 per cent of office employees have no natural light in their working environment, and 58 per cent have no live plants in their workspace. In Canada 32 per cent of workers reported having no windows. This was closely followed by Australia and the U.S., with 28 per cent and 27 per cent of workers, respectively, reporting having no windows.

The study’s authors say these three countries all reported above average levels of stress. Conversely, workers in Indonesia and India reported some of the highest levels of light and space at 93 per cent and 92 per cent, respectively, and reported some of the lowest levels of unhappiness.

Most wanted elements in office space:
1. Natural light
2. Live indoor plants
3. Quiet working space
4. View of the sea
5. Bright colours

The data demonstrates that 85 per cent of global office workers surveyed are based in an urban environment and the largest proportion of respondents spent between 40 to 49 hours per week in the office. Despite city-dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity for elements that reflect nature.

“Biophilic design is the art of understanding how nature can influence us and how we can bring those sorts of influences into the spaces within which we work,” said Chip DeGrace, executive creative director at Interface. “The research indicates that by incorporating simple design elements which help to create a connection to nature, a business could potentially boost the productivity of its employees by six per cent.”

The Human Spaces report into The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace was commissioned by the global modular flooring company Interface, and led by organizational psychologist Professor Cary Cooper.

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