We’ve known about the importance of work environments for some time now. In a 2003 survey by Management Today, 97 percent of respondents said they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. While this shouldn’t come as a surprise, there’s a disheartening new layer to the story. According to data we compiled from a recent survey of 1,000 Americans who work in traditional office environments (no freelancers, retailers or astronauts), many employers fail to create inspiring, uplifting work environments.
In many cases, employers aren’t taking care of basic elements that most people associate with a pleasant, welcoming, modern workplace. One in three people report there are no plants at their offices and one in four say there is no art. Those are special accents, you say—reserved only for the privileged businesses that can afford them? Consider this: 45 percent of the people we surveyed have little to no natural light in their environment and 46 percent say the design and décor in their workplace lends it no personality whatsoever. Light, according to our survey, is the most significant factor that shapes an office environment and the feelings of the workers in that environment. And it’s not just about feelings either—yes, people who report having “a lot” of natural light in their workplace are more likely to say they feel comfortable and uplifted in that environment, but they’re also 35 percent more likely to say their environment increases productivity. It doesn’t end there. A study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found people exposed to more light at work had longer, healthier sleep schedules. Furniture is another key element that affects a person’s experience of their work environment, both in terms of comfort and aesthetics. For the most part, American workers are happy with their office furniture. Seventy-nine percent are satisfied with its appearance and 82 percent are satisfied with its comfort. But when it’s not right, it’s really not right—the people who reported their furniture situation is “bad” were three times more likely to feel their environment hurts productivity and two times more likely to consider it depressing. As it stands now, just one in four people say they would be proud to show their office environment to friends and family. It’s doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re one of the seventy-five percent who aren’t proud, show our data to your boss, share a link on social, spread the word to let people know that designing an inspired workplace isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for the health of a business.