Nov 26

The headlines about what perks or elements of office design make for a great employee experience seem to be dominated by fads.

However, a new survey reveals the reality is that employees crave something far more fundamental.

A research poll of 1,614 found that access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment. This outranks onsite cafeterias, fitness centres, and premium perks including on-site childcare.

Office design

The study also found that the absence of natural light and outdoor views hurts the employee experience. Over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their workspace.

47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.

These findings support a larger trend of the growing importance of employee wellbeing. More than half of employees report better overall well-being as “very important” to them.

Work-life balance was determined to be the second most important factor when choosing to work for a company. When employees are fulfilled in all aspects of their well-being, this leads to increased employee engagement and increases individual performance.

The rise of mobile devices

The desire for workplaces infused with daylight and views may also be due to our increased usage of mobile devices.

A study found that 73% of employees agree that the longer they use their technology devices, the more they desire a visual break such as taking a walk or looking through unobstructed windows to an outside view.

Improving working conditions

A recent study found optimisation of natural light in an office significantly improves health and wellness among workers.

In fact, this research revealed that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness.

The natural benefits

The fundamental health benefits of access to natural light are causing some firms to re-imagine their workspace and tout this as a recruiting tool. A great example of this is The Spheres, an Amazon workspace in downtown Seattle that’s also a curated jungle with over 40,000 plants.

Amazon’s Spheres relies on the premise that natural light, plant life, and healthy activities such as walking reduce employee stress and improve job satisfaction more so than a standard office building.

How can you think differently about the impact of natural light in your organisation? Here are three suggestions:
See the workspace through the lens of your employees.

Today, business leaders are aware of the power of creating an employee experience to mirror their company’s best customer experience.

Tools such as design thinking and employee journey mapping are used to understand moments that matter to employees. Many companies are creating new roles to monitor how the employee experience is woven into the business.

Listen to employees to understand what type of workplace environment they want.

Companies routinely conduct employee surveys to gather feedback on their culture, performance management and investment in learning and development.

They include survey questions on the expectations employees have and how this impacts their overall wellbeing.

Consider creating an optimal workspace for all employees.

The notion that organisations create optimal workspaces for executives only is no longer the case. Companies are seeing the importance of the workspace for all employees.

Workspaces are also increasingly important to attract and retain talent. Too often, organisations design workspaces for executives with large windows while lower level employees do not have access to light. But it doesn’t have to be this way.