and PRODUCTIVITY in the
he cost of office space has a simple metric – dollars per square foot. But metrics
for employee productivity in a given layout seem inexact and problematic.
Nevertheless, for most firms, the expense of employees far outweighs that of
facilities and real estate, making productivity’s potential leverage on the bottom
line much greater.
According to Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices, a study by the
World Green Building Council, employee salaries and benefits account for 90%
of typical business operating expenses. Far behind employee costs are space rental (9%) and
energy costs (1%). Clearly, an office workplace that enhances productivity can leverage a huge
return on the investment.
But what makes an office productive? And how can that be measured?
Wellbeing Is Replacing Wellness
Since the identification of sick building syndrome (SBS) in the 1980s, it has been well recognized that buildings should not induce health problems. Buildings with poor indoor air quality
(too little fresh air, off-gassing of contaminants, VOCs, mold, etc.) are clear health hazards to
occupants – and potentially huge liabilities for their owners. But the bar is being raised much
higher than this minimum for buildings.
A building must not only avoid threats to wellness but also promote productive wellbeing.
Healthy employees are more productive than unhealthy ones. For decades, research has suggested that indoor spaces with natural features are good for wellness and wellbeing. Plants and
gardens, water, daylighting, and views to the outdoors are restorative. Biophilic design that
utilizes these elements is seen as a way to reduce stress and absenteeism, improve wellbeing, and
make occupants more productive.
BY CHRIS OLSON T
How the design of office space impacts output and the bottom line