An Overlooked Office Perk

By: Lauren Mineau

We often hear about workplace perks that are unique, quirky, or get people talking. You remember those headlines about bringing dogs to work, on-site yoga classes, or company-wide outings aimed at having a good time. But it seems that a lot of us enjoy a benefit that’s more fundamental to human needs and happiness – a workplace with natural light and views of the outdoors.

A recently released survey by the HR advisory firm Future Workplace called “The Employee Experience” found that access to natural light and a place to see the outdoors were the number one most important attribute of an office environment.

The poll survey 1,614 North American employees and found that this perk was generally preferred over others like an onsite cafeteria, fitness center, or childcare.

The study also found that people can feel the difference when natural light is not readily available. More than one-third of those surveyed felt they don’t get enough natural light at their current workspace. Nearly half, 47 percent, said they often feel tired, gloomy, or just down-in-the-dumps without being near a window.

In a time when overall wellness, mental health, and work-life balance are at the forefront of the modern day benefit conversation, it would seem that a benefit like this is easy enough to implement.

More than half of American employees rate well-being as very important to them, according to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace survey. Among the rest of the results, work-life balance remains a key priority when people go to choose an employer.

Another factor to consider is the increased amount of digital work we do. Many of us have to use laptops, mobile phones and tablets for many hours each day. There’s plenty of research that shows too much screen time being bad for our health and our brains. A good way to counteract that is to consider stepping away from your desk here and there to even just look out the window. The break from a screen and viewing nature combined can help us in many ways. Changing up scenery also helps mental focus and clarity.

But, we all have work to do. Next week, we’ll look at some ways to make your workspace more green and natural to help the time you do really need to be at your desk be a little more pleasant.