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Research shows that natural factors in the workplace can improve work efficiency

  • Author:Max Lin
  • Release on :2017-03-31

For many of us, our physical workplace can be dark, depressing, bland and even dysfunctional.
Windowless cubicle farms and airless open-plan floors can kill motivation and take a toll on worker performance, possibly even their health.
But a refreshing trend is taking root in workplace design: nature.

There's a growing body of evidence showing that workplaces that incorporate natural elements, such as plants, light, colours and shapes, have noticeable — and measurable — benefits for both companies and their employees.
The positive effects touch on everything from worker happiness and creativity to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, better staff retention, improved profits, and the improved ability to attract the best workers.

It's all based on the principle of biophilia — the instinctive affinity that humans have with the natural world and other living systems. And it's easier to achieve at the office than you'd think.
"People just don't like fluorescent lights in a building with no plants, no views, no natural lighting," says Sir Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University in the UK and co-founder of consultancy Robertson-Cooper.
He led a 2015 study on the impact of biophilia in the workplace that surveyed 7,600 workers in 16 countries and found that even small nature-inspired changes can have a dramatic impact.
Respondents to the Human Spaces Global Report who worked in environments with natural elements reported a 15% higher level of well-being, a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity.
One third of respondents said the design of an office would affect their decision to work for a company. Even so, 58% said there were no live plants at their workplace and 47% reported having no natural light.
An earlier, 2014 study by Cardiff University in Wales also showed that plants in the office make people happier and more productive. But more research is needed into biophilia, experts say.

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