Worldwide, a growing body of evidence is demonstrating that connection to nature through biophilic design and the use of wood is associated with improved physical and mental wellbeing.
In Australia, many people lead increasingly indoor lives and have limited opportunities to connect with nature in their everyday activities. New research, conducted by Sydney marketing research company, Pollinate and reviewed by Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer, University of Canberra, demonstrates benefits in simulating this important connection with nature by using wood in the built environment.
Natural high: timber buildings make for happier, more effective workspaces.
According to the study, employees in offices featuring natural wooden surfaces reported higher personal productivity, mood, concentration, clarity, confidence and optimism. What’s more, over 80 per cent of workers exposed to eight or more wooden surfaces in their workplaces reported being ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with their work.
“According to the study, employees in offices featuring natural wooden surfaces reported higher personal productivity, mood, concentration, clarity, confidence and optimism. What’s more, over 80 per cent of workers exposed to eight or more wooden surfaces in their workplaces reported being ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with their work.”
Given the relationship between workplace satisfaction and productivity, creating worker friendly environments can have a potentially significant economic benefit. As workplace satisfaction increases the incidence of unplanned leave decreases. Almost half (48%) of workers who are very dissatisfied with their physical workplace have taken unplanned leave compared to only 22% of those who are very satisfied.
And for employers and property developers (looking for potential tenants or purchasers of commercial office space) reading this, the message is clear: Workers who are satisfied with their physical workplace take less sick leave.
Using timber makes for a worker-friendly environment, with productivity boosts a proven outcome.
On average workers who are very satisfied with their physical workplace take four less sick days per year compared to those who are very dissatisfied, as demonstrated by the following graph.
The ripple effect of these findings is huge: happier, more productive workers make for a stronger organisation which in turn benefits the Australian economy. And the secret to success is simple: include natural elements like wood in workplaces and reap the results. Given that Australians are spending 90 per cent of their time indoors, it is even more important that they are in sustainable and health-promoting built environments.
“This information should be a wake-up call to all organisations that wish to improve the wellbeing and productivity of their staff. From small businesses to government, and everyone in between, the answer is simple; add more wood and natural elements and the results will go straight to your bottom line. Offsite building has a part to play in realising the benefits of biophilic design as timber’s suitability for prefabrication is proven.” ■