Employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 percent higher level of wellbeing, six percent more productivity and 15 percent more creativity, according to new research commissioned by global modular flooring company, Interface.

The study of 7,600 office workers across 16 countries, led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, found that despite 33 percent of respondents saying that office design would affect their decision to join a company, nearly half (47%) of office employees have no natural light and almost two thirds (58%) have no live plants in their workspace.

Commenting on what the research findings could mean for design in the office space, Chip DeGrace, Executive Creative Director at Interface, said:

“What we can clearly identify is that there needs to be an ongoing evolution of the traditional office space, and it seems that as a global population, we are becoming ever more cognisant of our surroundings and how they impact us. We can see that working in environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, leads to a higher level of well-being and productivity, which is an important consideration for any business in terms of responsibility to its employees.”

The majority of the survey’s respondents (85%) across the globe were based in an urban environment and the largest proportion spend between 40 – 49 hours per week in the office. It appears significant that while working in such environments, participants were aware of the effects natural elements such as sunlight and greenery had on their sense of wellbeing.

In terms of working space, nearly two fifths (39%) of workers said they would feel most productive at their own desk in a solitary office, while 36 percent of respondents would feel most productive at their own desk in an open plan office. The preference for solo working space is reflected in EMEA with 40 percent of office workers feeling most productive in a solitary office, compared with 31 percent who preferred an open plan environment.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, said: 

As well as enabling organisations to make links between their physical spaces and the performance of their people, this study throws light on one of the defining challenges of modern life – our ability to cope with urbanisation and loss of connection with green spaces.”