The Human Spaces Report, commissioned by global modular flooring experts, Interface and led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, has today revealed EMEA employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13% higher level of well-being and are 8% more productive overall.

Two fifths (42%) of EMEA office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half (55%) don’t have access to any greenery in their working environment and even 7% of EMEA workers have no window in their workspace. Spain reported the highest number of office employees with no window (15%), and also had the most stressed workforce. In contrast, Germany and Denmark reported the least number of workers with no windows (2% and 3% respectively), and had the happiest workforce.

The academic study looked at the impact of the physical office environment on employee well-being across 3600 office workers in eight countries throughout EMEA.

With nearly two-thirds (63%) of EMEA office workers now based in either a town or city centre and spending on average 34 hours per week in the office, their interaction with nature is becoming increasingly limited. Despite city dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity to elements that reflect nature.

Interestingly, 40% of workers across EMEA said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 31% would feel most productive at their own desk in an open plan office. Flexible working was a surprisingly low preference, with just 11% of workers choosing a space that suits their needs as their productive way to work.

The top five natural elements EMEA office workers put on their wish list for their ideal office space:

  • Natural light
  • Quiet working space
  • A view of the sea
  • Live indoor plants
  • Bright colours

Commenting on the research findings, Professor Sir Cary Cooper 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. Being connected to nature and the outside world, biophilic design, to give it its real name, is a big part of that.”

Commenting on what the research findings could mean for design in the office space, 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. Ultimately improving the well-being, productivity and creativity of the workforce is key to the success of market leading organisations.”