May 22, 2015

Interface Reports on Impact of Nature in Office Design

text Photography by Kevin C Korczyk

Global Study Connects Employee Productivity and Well-Being to Office Design

Interface’s recently released Human Spaces report into the Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, led by renowned organizational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, has revealed that employees in environments with natural elements report a 15% higher level of well-being, are 6% more productive and 15% more creative overall.

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Lack of Natural Light Linked to Increased Levels of Employee Stress

Globally, nearly half (47%) of office employees have no natural light in their working environment. In Canada 32% of workers reported having no windows and above average levels of stress. Conversely, Indonesian workers reported some of the highest levels of light and space at 93% along with some of the lowest levels of unhappiness.

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Solo Workspaces Linked to Productivity

In terms of working space, nearly two fifths (39%) of workers said they would feel most productive in a solitary office while 36% of respondents would feel most productive at their own desk in an open plan office. Interestingly, individual data from certain countries was much higher: Spain (48%); Australia (48%); India (46%); and Brazil (46%) – indicating that collaborative working is much more important to them than the global average.

Global Urbanization

Of those surveyed 85% are based in an urban environment and the largest proportion of respondents spent between 40–49 hours per week in the office. Despite city-dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity for elements that reflect nature.

Commenting on what these findings could mean for office design, Chip DeGrace, Interface’s Executive Creative Director, said , “Biophilic design is understanding how nature influences us and how to bring these influences into our workspaces. We see that work environments with natural elements lead to a higher level of well being and productivity, which is an important consideration for business in terms of responsibility to its employees and its own bottom line.”

Author and professor Dr. Stephen R. Kellert added, “People possess an inherent need to affiliate with nature, something we have called biophilia. This can occur directly in the built environment through the experience of plants and natural lighting, but also indirectly through shapes, forms and materials that originate in the natural world.  Incorporating these features into the work place, through the application of biophilic design, can enhance employee health, motivation, problem solving, and creativity.  In effect, it can lead to superior performance and productivity.”

Join the conversation on biophilic design at

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