A new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) finds “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff.
Th report, entitled Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building was launched as part of the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA’s) World Green Building Week activities.
It found that a range of factors - from air quality and lighting, to views of nature and interior layout – can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers.
GBCA Chief Executive Romilly Madew said: “Of the almost 25 million square metres of office space across Australia, 23 per cent is now Green Star-rated.
“Operating from sustainable office space is increasingly recognised as a strategic business decision that is not only environmentally and economically-sound, but can also enhance a company’s biggest asset and expense – its people.”
The report – sponsored by GBCA members JLL and Lend Lease – also presents a simple toolkit that businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their buildings and inform financial decision-making.
Geoff Dutaillis, Group Head of Sustainability at Lend Lease, said: This report provides further evidence that workplaces with clean air, natural daylight and engaging and adaptable layouts all contribute to making healthier, happier and more motivated individuals who create stronger, more resilient and profitable companies.”
In Australia, the aggregate cost to business of ill-health and absenteeism is AUD$7 billion per year. The report attests that taking measures to improve office design and layout, this figure can be significantly reduced.
Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council, says: “The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of staff is now overwhelming. There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings.”
Key Findings of the Report
Indoor air quality: A comprehensive body of research suggests that better indoor air quality (low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants and high ventilation rates) can lead to productivity improvements of 8- 11%.
Thermal comfort: Research demonstrates that thermal comfort has a significant impact on workplace satisfaction and modest degrees of personal control over thermal comfort can return single digit improvements in productivity.
Lighting and views of nature: Several studies have estimated productivity gains as a result of proximity to windows, with experts now thinking that views from windows are probably the more significant factor, particularly where the view offers a connection to nature.
Noise and acoustics: Research suggests that being productive in the modern knowledge-based office is practically impossible when noise provides an unwanted distraction. This can be a major cause of dissatisfaction amongst occupants.
Interior layout: The way the interior of an office is configured (including workstation density and configuration of work space, breakout space and social space) has been found to have an impact on concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity.
Active design and exercise: Health can be improved through exercise, and so active design within a building, and access to services and amenities such as gyms, bicycle storage and green space can help to encourage healthier lifestyles of building occupants.