Corporate America’s offices have a poor reputation thanks to their rows of cookie-cutter cubicles, drab colored walls, artificial lighting, and suburban location.
These generic environments offer employees little to no stimulation, and cause higher stress levels and an overall decrease in happiness and well-being.1
However, top companies are only as great as the employees that support them. A company’s best employees are usually also its happiest. Studies show that happy employees take fewer sick days, stay twice as long in their jobs, and are twice as likely to believe they are achieving their potential as unhappy employees.2 Additionally, companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20 percent.3
So, how can employers increase the happiness and well-being of their employees? The answer lies in the office – what it looks like and where it’s located.
An evolving office
Some small and others large, changes can be made to the standard “Corporate America” office that can greatly improve the happiness and well-being of employees.
A large contributor to employee well-being in the office is light, more specifically natural light. More than 75 percent of employees believe that natural light is important, and professional studies agree.4 Employees with access to nature, views, and natural light exercise more and have a better sense of health. They also get 46 more minutes of sleep per night.5 Think about it this way, plants are healthiest and thrive most when exposed to natural light, and it’s no different for to humans.
Aside from natural light, another contributor to employee well-being is color. People are unlikely to be inspired by the gray wall of the traditional office space. The inclusion of color in an office can help promote creativity, productivity, and happiness.
Studies have shown:6
• Bright colors such as reds, blues, and greens are associated with greater focus and task accuracy
• Yellows make employees feel clear-headed and alert, allowing for clear-thinking and decision making
• Oranges help ease emotions, boost self-esteem, and create enthusiasm
Choice and movement within an office are also large contributors to employee happiness and well-being. Think about it, office crowding can create stress. Offices that provide high ceilings or walls with mirrors, as well as multiple work settings for a variety of work functions, are perceived as less crowded by employees, decreasing stress levels and increasing well-being.6
Location, location, location
While the interior of an office clearly impacts an employee’s well-being, where an office is located matters too. Many major cities with job growth have seen employment city centers growing faster than the suburbs for several key reasons.7
Employees increasingly want to live, work, play, and shop all in the same place. Mixed-use urban environments, where an employee can live and work in the same area, allow for natural “clustering” to occur. Clustering can lead to ideas blooming from spontaneous, face-to-face interactions in places like coffee shops and parks.8
Additionally, urban, centrally located offices also offer shorter commutes. Research has shown that employees with longer commutes are 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, 37 percent more likely to have financial concerns, and 12 percent more likely to report work-related stress.9
Smart companies continue to adapt
Given how the workforce is evolving, and how their needs and wants are changing, it’s no surprise that offices are evolving as well. Employers have begun to realize that thoughtful workplace design, coupled with a desirable urban location can be powerful tools when it comes to increasing employee happiness, well-being, and retention.