New study shows the appearance of an office can impact stress levels

October 24th, 2014 Category: Commercial

The lighting in a building can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of workers, according to new research.

Findings published by organisational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper in a publication entitled 'The Human Spaces Report'  revealed that nearly half of workers have no natural light in their workplace.

It found that two-fifths (42 per cent) of office employees have no natural light in their working environment, while over half (55 per cent) don’t have access to any greenery in their working environment.

All of this is having a severe impact on the productivity and wellbeing of workers in a commercial setting.

Furthermore, the research showed that seven per cent of employees have no window in their place of work.

It also found that there was a great variation in terms of the countries where these workers were based.

For example, Spain had the highest proportion of workers who worked in a windowless environment, with as many as 15 per cent of people stating this was the case.

 In contrast, Germany and Denmark reported the least number of workers with no windows (two per cent and three per cent respectively).

Speaking about the survey results, Sir Cary Cooper said commercial organisations should take a more holistic approach when it comes to the work environment.

He 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 is no coincidence that the most modern employers now take a new view, designing environments to help people thrive, collaborate and be creative."

He added that the optimum environment for employees to work in are places that are in close proximity to the nature and the outside world.

The research also analysed the location of different workers and assessed how this affected their health and wellbeing.

It found that 40 per cent of workers said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 31 per cent would be more productive at their own desk in an open plan office.

Flexible working came surprisingly low down on the list, with just 11 per cent of workers choosing a space that suits their needs as their productive way to work.

Employees ranked having natural light and a quiet working space as some of the most important criteria when it came to the corporate environment.

This was closely followed by having a view of the sea and live indoor plants. Others expressed a preference for bright colours.

These new findings have significant implications for the design, layout and management of office spaces across the country.

Commenting, Mandy Leeming, design and development manager (UK) at Interface, said: "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 colours and textures, and interpreting them."

She added that improving the appearance of an office can in the long-term, play a leading role in the well-being, productivity and creativity of the workforce.