Bring The Outdoors In… To Workplace Design

In a recent survey of U.S. and UK workers, access to natural light was found to be an important factor in their level of job satisfaction.

Office workers value flexible working options more than any other employment benefit, but there are crucial differences between what men and women want from their employer according to new research released from Ambius, a Wyomissing, PA-based company that provides interior landscaping for commercial environments. The physical design of the workplace, including access to natural light, was found to be an important factor in employee satisfaction.

A survey of 1,000 office workers in the U.S. and UK found that men value health insurance above any other work perk, whereas women would prefer more flexibility in their office job, such as options for remote working or adaptable hours.natural light

According to this survey, health insurance is four times more important to U.S. office workers (41%) than office workers in the UK (11%), where health care is often taken for granted by many employees due to the existence of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). And, U.S. office workers in southeastern states (51%) value healthcare more than workers anywhere else in the country, whereas midwestern workers (23%) value vacation leave significantly more than workers on the west coast (9%).

One thing office workers agree on is the importance of the office environment to their overall job satisfaction, with 90% of employees saying that the layout and design features of their office is a major factor in whether they are happy at work.

Half of these office workers (50%) say they would not accept a job offer without looking at the workspace. Men appear to be a little more interested in their workspace than women, with 40% of men saying they have declined a job offer because they didn’t find the office space attractive or appealing compared to 34% of women.

Play areas are twice as important to men (9%) than women (4%), while people who work in accounting, banking, and finance are twice as likely (22%) to crave bright colors than healthcare workers (10%) or people in public services and administration (9%).
Energy and utility workers say they value hot drinks and complimentary beverages more than any other benefit, including healthcare and vacation leave.

Within this research, Ambius found that that office workers spend just 47 minutes outside during a typical working day. (The company points out this time is less than prisoners, who require at least one hour of outdoor exposure each day, according to UN guidelines.) One-in-three office workers (35%) spend no more than 15 minutes outside during their working day, while only 26% say they spend more than an hour outside each day, excluding time spent commuting.

natural light
Photo: Ambius

It is, therefore, not surprising that most office workers (64%) say that natural light is a highly-important office feature. However, despite this lack of outdoor exposure, only 18% of office workers responding believe that outside areas are important to their job satisfaction.

Ambius encourages companies who are prioritizing talent recruitment and retention to explore workplace design improvements that facilitate better health and well-being. Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at the company, says, “The fact that virtually every office worker says that the environment they work in is integral to their job satisfaction puts a huge onus on employers to be more considerate of their workers’ well-being. Employers, at a minimum, need to focus on the impact of their built environment on the physical and psychological comfort of their staff.”

Freeman continues, “Bringing elements of nature and natural light — or providing modern biodynamic lighting, which closely mimics natural light — into the workplace and enabling workers to be involved in the design and use of their workstations has positive effects on performance, including increases in productivity, creativity and a greater sense of well-being.”