France is the country counting the highest number of employees not being motivated at work (1). This rate of 54% is a cause for concern as one spends 36% of the day at work, which is more than one spends for sleeping. Well-being at work is a key feature that is also determined by the work environment. Actually, a correlation between motivation and the quality of the work environment has been observed. Workers, being highly committed to their work are also happier with several aspects of the work environment: they feel optimistic regarding what they can accomplish.
Beatriz Arantes – Workspace Futures Senior Design for Steel Case: « When we are in a safe and friendly environment, our body relaxes and our mind starts to think about other things […] When people are in an environment that stimulates positive emotions they can be fully productive, collaborating and creative.»(2)
« Both for the productivity of its employees and to attract new talents »(3), a company has to give attention to the quality of the work environment.
A view of the outside is a key element of a work environment encouraging well-being.
However, 50% of the workers confirm that they do not enjoy a pleasant view at work(4). This is a real problem when you know that a windowless workplace encourages tension and stress(5).
It is difficult to concentrate on something the whole day long without taking any break. During breaks, we look automatically for diversion in our nearest surrounding. A simple window provides a stimulus that allows you to relax for some moments, and helps to remain concentrated during longer periods(6).
The view of the outside is particularly important for workplaces in front of a screen. Actually, it provides a link to the outside offering an escape(7), an interface between the employee and the outside world.
Researches carried out by Heshong Mahone Group Inc. have proved that the quality of the view of the outside at work has an impact on health. Employees who enjoy a view on natural elements from their workplace are generally healthier and less tiered(8).
Studies regarding health at work have shown that a view of the outside can reduce eye strain. In static work environments and workplaces in front of a screen, the view of the outside allows to relax the eye mussels changing from a close view (on the screen) to a distant view (on the window). Thus, relaxing regularly your eyes by watching out of a window helps on a long-term basis to reduce eye strain(9).
30% of European workers feel exposed to stress(10). This stress often provokes health problems and high absenteeism rates.
Having a view of the outside from one’s desk can help to reduce stress. Researches have shown that a view on a natural area can offer relaxing moments which help to reduce the heart rate and to step back more easily from a stressful situation.
Even in very bright offices, the importance of a view of the outside should not be understated. Numerous studies have proved that it is possible to increase concentration and productivity of the employees by placing their desk in a position having a view of the outside. The relaxing moments offered by the view (each time the employee turns the eyes away from the screen) allow the employee to concentrate more easily on his work.
Thus, productivity can be increased by 15% only by changing the position of the desk according to the windows(11).
The researches have shown that there is a real need to consider the visual work environment to foster productivity and perceptions of well-being. A simple way to make a work environment more stimulating is to offer an access to a view of the outside by means of a window. In cases where this is not possible, a virtual view on the outside is an efficient alternative: « Recreating natural elements within the workplace reduces stress and refills one’s energy levels », according to the Human Spaces Global Report, the impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace.
(1) Rapport sur L’engagement et l’espace de travail dans le monde, Steelcase
(2) Steel case, « Bien-être, une question fondamentale »
(3) “Human Spaces Global Report, the Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace
(4) Steel case, « Bien-être, une question fondamentale »
(5) The influence of forest view through a window on job satisfaction and job stress, Ruys,
(6) Hane, Muro and Sawada, 1992
(7) Human Spaces Global Report, the Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace
(8) Heschong Mahone Group. 2003. Windows and Offices: A Study of Office Worker Performance and the Indoor Environment – CEC PIER 2003
(9) Alan Hedge, professeur en ergonomie à l’Université Cornell dans l’Etat de New York.
(10) 2009 Eurostat
(11) ‘The relative benefits of green versus lean office space: Three field experiments’ researchers in Cardiff