Linda Trim, Director at Giant Leap, office architects who consult across South Africa and Africa, said that the survey was carried out late last year and queried just over 3000 office workers on what mattered to them most in the workplace.
“Unsurprisingly 42% said more natural light was the the most important element.
“It so simple but often design gets so caught up in the fancier things, people forget the importance of sunlight to humans’ sense of well-being.
“This is especially true in the workplace, where traditionally there has been a focus on issues of layout and safety – important factors, but not the only elements affecting happiness at work.”
Second on the list was ‘quiet working spaces’ at 22% and in third ‘was a view of the sea’ at 20%.
Said Trim:”Increasingly we are installing quiet zones for our big clients. People need to escape from what is often a noisy and disruptive environment to really get work done.
“A typical office work switches activities about every three minutes and half of these switches were caused by interruptions. Interrupted work is usually resumed however it takes workers about 20 minutes to get back to what they were doing.”
She added that views of the sea were a nice to have but not practical for inland cities. “We have found however that placing large pictures of peaceful natural places like forests, mountains or the sea does create a calming atmosphere in the office.”
Rounding out the list was ‘live indoor plants’ at 18% and ‘bright colours' at 15%. “The recent trend to create clinical uncluttered offices doesn’t make people more productive or help them concentrate better.”
Trim noted that a green office signals to employees that their employer cares about their well-being. “Adding live plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”
Another factor that made offices better places to work was the right use of colour. “Bland colours induce feelings of sadness and depression while grey and white can also contribute to feelings of gloom and anxiety.
“Scientific studies have shown that colours don’t just change our moods, they also profoundly impact productivity. “That’s why it’s best to decorate your workplace with a vibrant mix of stimulating hues that increase output and spark creativity,“ Trim said.