According to a survey by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “…85% of people feel their access to quality outdoor views and natural sunlight boosts their overall productivity and happiness.” These results are hardly surprising. Backed by research, we know that good institutional design has a direct impact on the occupants of a built environment. Further to that, improvements that affect human capital have a much greater impact on organizations in terms of costs and savings than those that improve only the physical capital.
The physical environment has a direct influence on an employee’s ability to be productive. From the layout of their work environment to lighting, noise levels, temperature, and air quality, these factors all affect a person’s ability to concentrate, engage and be productive. It also affects their wellness, resulting in fewer sick days and absenteeism and improved retention rates.
Bring in the fresh air and natural light! Access to natural daylight has a positive influence on our health, specifically in terms of reducing depression, decreasing fatigue and improving alertness. From a design point of view, studies have shown that the presence of windows in the workplace and access to daylight are linked to increased work satisfaction, boosting energy, improving performance and reducing errors.
A report published by the World Green Building Council (WGBC), found that noise distractions led to a 66% drop in performance and concentration. Fortunately, smart acoustics and workplace design can help dampen distracting noise without sacrificing how employees engage and communicate.
Air quality and temperature also have an impact on productivity. If an area is too cold, performance can fall 4%. And if it is too hot, employee productivity can fall 6%. Maintaining a comfortable temperature is important for supporting employees’ wellbeing, as even minor changes can affect performance and safety.
Reduce Workplace Stress
Studies show that up to 40% of workers find their jobs extremely stressful and that 73% of adult Canadians report at least some level of stress in their lives. By designing an environment that takes this into consideration, stress can be minimized for occupants of a building.
Architects can pull a number of levers to ensure that an environment is as stress-free as possible by incorporating natural elements, outdoor views and access to nature within the design. Eemployees within an office setting report a 15% higher level of well-being. And a key factor in the higher levels of well-being is the reduction of stress.
Focus on Employee Wellness
With the introduction of WELL certification, a building certification that focuses on the health and wellbeing of the occupants, we predict supporting and promoting employee wellness through design will continue to play an increasingly important role in institutional design. Employers and stakeholders recognize that employee satisfaction builds engagement, productivity and aids in employee retention. More and more, employees want a workplace that not only allows them to be at their most productive, but also encourages general health and wellness.