26 June 2018
New report: Workplaces, Wellness and Wood
Wood in the working environment is key to increasing workplace productivity, according to a new report Workplaces, Wellness and Wood prepared for Forest & Wood Products Australia by strategic research firm Pollinate and the University of Canberra.
The research provides fresh evidence supporting the business case for biophilia – the principle that exposure to nature increases a human sense of wellbeing. The study found that the more natural-looking wooden surfaces workers could see from their workstation, the higher their workplace satisfaction and wellbeing.
The study paints a depressing picture of the modern-day working environment. Less than half of those surveyed said they had access to nature at work, with 46 per cent spending less than an hour outdoors during the working week.
A mere 47 per cent reported having access to natural light, only 38 per cent said they were surrounded by indoor plants and 26 per cent cited being unable to see any natural-looking wooden surfaces.
Associate Professor Schirmer said: “We know it’s good for us to spend time outdoors interacting with nature, but with people spending so much time indoors, there’s increasing recognition of the potential benefits of bringing nature into the workplace and the home.
“The academic world is becoming increasingly switched on to biophilia as an area warranting real research and attention, and some engineering degrees are starting to include it as a subject.
“Importantly, wood is a particularly useful tool for bringing nature into the workplace in situations where it is not feasible to retro-fit other changes, such as increased natural light.”
Over 80 per cent of those surveyed who were exposed to eight or more wooden surfaces in the workplace reported feeling ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with work, compared to 53 per cent with no wooden surfaces.
Employees working in offices with natural wooden surfaces on average also reported higher personal productivity, mood, concentration, clarity, confidence and optimism.
The effect on wellbeing was greatest when wood was used in combination with other natural elements such as plants, water features and natural light.