As more and more companies make the shift toward more eco-friendly office design, the wellbeing, health, and productivity of workers are brought into question. Today, many forward-thinking companies have transformed their office spaces so that they are open concept and versatile working environments.
However, some critics have argued that the shift toward a more dorm-like working environment is a fad that has been created by young tech companies that will quickly die out. Here, we will discuss some of the ways in which office furniture and contemporary office space are more than just accessories or an aesthetic gimmick, and how a company’s furniture and office space can actually impact the health of its employees as well as the business itself.
More Than Just a Marketing Gimmick
While some naysayers have argued that open concept environments are just a marketing gimmick used by duplicitous companies to convince clients that their company is hip and trendy, studies have found that they actually have substantial merit. For example, a recent study conducted by the World Green Building Council found that certain office design features actually had a marked effect on the wellbeing, health, and even work output of employees.
It is also important to note that roughly 90% of a company’s finances are invested in its employees, as far as corporate operating costs are concerned. As such, it makes sound business sense to ensure that a company’s workers are healthy, happy, and motivated in order to maximize worker retention as well as productivity. Interestingly, the study also found that not only did certain office spaces have a profound impact on the health, morale, and wellbeing of its employees, but that certain building types also had a significant impact on the environment as well.
The Impact of Natural Light
Recent studies have found that employees who worked near a window reported greater levels of happiness and motivation. As such, the research on the impact of natural light and having visible natural scenery nearby seem to indicate that natural light and nature may have numerous mental and physical health benefits.
Furthermore, people who work in the creative industry, which usually involves a lot of design work, may have the most to gain from working near a window with a view, as natural light actually provides the most elevated levels of colour rendering. Also, more natural light exposure will reduce the amount of interior lighting required to illuminate an office space, which can lower the lighting and utility costs of the company in question.
Eye health is also facilitated by having a view, as working near a window will allow the worker to have access to a myriad of different views. In other words, working near a window will allow the eyes to refocus and adjust according to different distances, which will actually strengthen the eyes as well as reduce the amount of eyestrain.
As for nature, studies have found that having some nice scenery to look at actually has a calming effect on the brain, and can have a very positive impact on the wellbeing and health of an employee by helping reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, a recent study conducted by a team of neuroscientists found that employees who worked in an office with windows received 173% more white light exposure compared to employees who didn’t work in an office with windows.
Furthermore, the employees who worked in an office with windows also slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than their non-window counterparts, who reported lower rates of satisfaction and scored lower overall as well.
The Influence of Nature
Even processing speed can be positively impacted by having a window with a view, as another study on call centres found that workers who worked in an office with a window view worked faster in terms of the processing speed of their calls (e.g., 12% vs. 7%). Working near a park, forest, or another such area with trees, fauna, and wildlife can also yield significant benefits, so even the location of an office can have a profound impact on the health of workers.
For instance, a study conducted in Japan found that something as simple as a brisk walk in a forest helped lower the heart rate of participants by 5%, lowered their blood pressure by 1%, reduced stress levels by 12%, and reduced anxiety (sympathetic nerve activity) by roughly 7%.
The Value of Office Furniture Design
Today, you can choose from a variety of different office furniture that will meet all of the needs of a mixed office, which may include quiet safe spaces, socializing rooms, brainstorming/meeting rooms, and task-based rooms. As such, you can choose from a myriad of different furniture pieces, whether you want to retrofit an existing space or are designing an entirely new office space.
The good news is that modern furniture has been designed to be compact, lightweight, modular, and mobile, so you can easily mix and match different pieces to find the ideal working environment for your employees. In fact, most of the office furniture manufacturers of today have been provided with substantial research data on human ergonomics; meaning they have the information needed to design desks and chairs that support human joints and muscles during tasks that require people to sit and work for a prolonged duration.
However, not all office furniture are of equal quality, so investing in quality construction, design, and materials are highly recommended, as they will pay great dividends in the long term, and your workers will thank you for your efforts by being happier, more productive, and loyal to your business.
On a final note, we would recommend that you invest in remanufactured office furniture, as it will reduce the amount of used furniture that will end up rotting in landfills, and, as an added benefit, you will actually be able to customize the furniture so that it meets your unique office needs, while also saving money on the refurbished furniture. If you would like to purchase eco-friendly and affordable furniture for your office then please visit our website or give us a call at 888-471-5066.