How Sustainable Office Design Improves Employee Productivity

May 26, 2018

Adding natural elements to your office leads to fewer sick days and happier employees

Once considered a luxury, sustainable office design is growing in popularity among architects and businesses alike. Research shows that humans benefit from contact with nature leading to better mood, cognition, and health. That’s why more developers are incorporating natural daylight, fresh air, green space, and sustainable materials into building design and renovations.

Sustainable buildings, also known as high performance buildings, are delivering valuable returns to businesses in the form of lower operating costs, better quality of work, and reduced absenteeism. According to Morgan Lovell, “the total financial benefits of green buildings are over ten times the average initial investment required.”

Even businesses that aren’t planning to build new can improve workspace productivity through simple office renovations. There are several design methods that can be used to boost office performance through better usage of space, energy, and materials.

 

Focus on health and wellbeing

Some forward-thinking organizations are making sustainable office design a priority. For example, an article from In the Black reports, 73% of the staff at Lendlease agrees that their workspace enables them to work productively. Their space includes clusters of plants, low VOC furnishings, vast amounts of daylight, and close proximity to windows. This office has been ranked in the top 6% of global workplaces by the Leesman Index.

As a comparison, this article points out that older office spaces tend to “suffer from poor air quality and the build-up of VOCs” which has been linked to drowsiness, headaches, and respiratory disease.

 

Three ways green design boosts productivity

Good air quality, lighting, and green space are important factors in employee health and wellbeing.

In the April 2018 report “Doing Right By Planet and People”, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) examined 11 green-certified buildings around the world to learn about the impact that health and wellbeing features had on employers and employees. Key findings included:

  1. Positive impact on office productivity and the bottom line. The report found that green buildings reduced staff turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism (when an employee is physically present but not productive). These companies enjoyed real savings from better overall office productivity. For example, one office saved $200,000 a year from lower staff turnover and fewer sick days.
  2. Employees feel happier and healthier. Employees reported feeling better in their new green spaces in all 11 companies surveyed. Happiness and satisfaction leads to higher levels of engagement and productivity. In a previous study, nearly 23% improved productivity from well-designed lighting alone.
  3. Inspiring and supporting employee productivity. In the report’s Lansec case study, 88% of employees agreed that the new office design enables productive work. The building’s interior layout focused on smart space utilization that features flexible work settings and open space that encourages in-person interactions.

 

A little can go a long way

Research studies show that implementing sustainable design practices — from biophilic design and material usage to smart space utilization — is resulting in healthier, happier, and more productive employees. These benefits aren’t just for big companies anymore. Businesses of all sizes can incorporate simple fixes to boost productivity and sustainability.  Consider adding greenery and soft furnishings or find ways to improve lighting, window access, and air quality to make the biggest impact.

To help your business optimize workspace and create a healthy, relaxing environment for employees, leverage Asure Software’s Workspace Management solutions.