Working in an office that looks like it was decorated well over a decade ago isn’t exactly the kind of ambiance most employees favour. Shabby carpets, stale wallpaper and desks that need more than a touch up all contribute to a rather sad looking office space. If you’re reading this, and thinking about what your office space looks like in comparison to the other glorious and glamorous offices spaces of the world, you have my sympathy.
You also have the sympathy of the World Green Building Council which has recently published a report that shows that well-designed office spaces can boost employee productivity by 15%. So, the next time your boss complains about how slow you’re working, feel free to mention that the office could do with a little TLC. According to this report, employees’ health and wellbeing can also be improved by the following methods:
- Having a few plants around the office.
- Good office lighting.
- Keeping the office at a reasonably warm temperature and giving employees the opportunity to have their say about the temperature in the office.
- Good office ventilation.
The report suggests that these additions to any office space will encourage employees to get more work done and improve their health when they are working in the office. This report has a “green agenda” and advocates the use of its suggestions to dramatically decrease environmental damage.
Take the report’s suggestion for example that improved office ventilation will contribute to workers’ wellbeing and productivity by 11%. The report also found that there was a 6% decrease in employees’ overall performance at high office temperatures and only a 4% decrease in performance in much cooler office temperatures.
Keeping noise pollution around the office to a minimum was also found to contribute to employees’ health and wellbeing in the office. The chief executive of the World Green Building Council Jane Henley had this to say:
The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff is now overwhelming.
There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings.
This report does indeed have some strong evidence to support the environmental implications of non-eco-friendly offices causing implications on staff’s health and wellbeing. However, the power to drive change is not in employees hands.
This is a matter for employers to look into but with 9.0% of an average company’s operating cost going to supporting staff, there does not appear to be an easy solution to making working environments better without compromising the company budget. Perhaps one of the most drastic suggestions that this report highlights is to make a complete shift towards eco-friendly office buildings, making improvements to office working environments structurally instead of internally. There is no doubt that when it comes to employee productivity, health and wellbeing employers will want to do everything they can, but going green for the sake of the workforce is something that many employers just aren’t capable of achieving.
It seems that time and time again, reports like this one are either ignored or are pretty much the elephant in the room - no one wants to talk about building more green office spaces, but no one wants to be seen as entirely ignoring the issue either.