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What do office workers really want?

Is it time to scrap the indoor ping pong office agenda and return to basics?

Okay, it’s hard to generalise what all office workers want. And perhaps that’s why, with the rising fad of work-life company values, we’ve seen the modern workplace incorporate close to anything you could think of into its culture. Plant havens, roaming spaces filled with sofas and bean bags, nap zones, pet-friendly (heck there’s dogs roaming around every office these days), childcare, afternoon meditation session, gym and yoga; you name it and it’s there. But despite the soaring efforts to make employees happy with quirky office plugins, what a recent study has revealed is that the bottom line desire of employees is access to light.

The study, which was conducted by the US-based HR firm Future Workplace and titled ‘The Employee Experience’, showed that a workplace that prioritises access to plenty of natural light is the number one attribute of the workplace environment desired by 1,614 North American employees who participated in the poll. The study also found that the absence of proper light, whether natural or artificial, hurts the employee experience. From the studied group, a third of employees reported that they don’t get enough light in their workspace and 47 percent of employees admitted they feel fairly to very tired from the absence of light in their office. 43 percent reported feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.

The notion of employee wellbeing in the workplace is on the rise as CEOs are becoming increasingly aware of the link between an improved workplace and improved productivity within the business. Fitness wearables have also come into vogue as employers seek to boost the experience and wellbeing of their employees, with smart watches being handed out to employees to help them track activity, or prompt them to stand up every few hours. But something as fundamental as light, which as the Future Workplace survey clearly shows is a top priority, has been left out of the wellbeing in the office trend.

Now think about your standard workplace, workers spend an average of 5 hours and 42 minutes at their desk each day. Having access to well-lit spaces can have a bottom-line impact on employees’ work performance, wellbeing and engagement. So before companies jump behind the fad of healthy snacks, gratis, and napping zones, light and employees’ exposure to it throughout the office space, is where our greatest attention should be honing in on.

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