Powerful, positive responses to biophilic design are certainly not new, but as a 2018 report brought to light on Treehugger illuminates, incorporating wood in offices can have a significant impact on the energy and wellbeing of office employees.
Prepared for Forest and Wood Products Australia by Pollinate, a strategic research consultancy, the survey, entitled “Workplaces: Wellness + Wood=Productivity,” encompasses the opinions of 1,000 typical Australians working in indoor settings.
Among the key findings are that those who work surrounded by wood experience higher levels of satisfaction, have more positive associations of their workplace, and feel a stronger connection to nature. Additionally, wood correlates to an improved mood and higher levels of concentration and productivity, generating an overall sense of wellbeing.
How Wood Affects Employee Wellness
According to the report, Australians perceive wood as calming and relaxing, particularly when compared to colder materials like concrete and steel. Approximately three quarters of workers can see at least one ‘natural-looking’ wooden item from their workspace, whether a desk, cabinet, or tables, but that still leaves one in four workers devoid of links to the outside world. Those people with exposure to less than 20 percent natural-looking wooden surfaces reveal they are far less satisfied with both their working life and physical workplace compared to those with a high proportion of wood.
Likewise, only 47 percent of workers overall claim to be satisfied with their work environment, indicating a need for businesses to make more of an effort in terms of integrating biophilic design elements like wood, plants, and views of nature into offices.
This can also translate to long-term benefits to employers, the study found, because as workplace satisfaction increases, the incidence of unplanned leave decreases. Forty-eight percent of workers who are very dissatisfied with their physical workplace have taken unplanned leave compared to only 22 percent of those who are very satisfied.
As the report sums up, “Wood is the only renewable building material and the one most loved by Australians. Wood is natural, timeless, versatile, and elicits feelings of warmth and comfort in those exposed to it. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the future of the Australian indoor built environment is wood.”
A version of this article was originally published by MyTech Decisions.