Back to the Basics: Air Quality and Natural Light Have the Biggest Impact on Workplace Wellness

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Future Workplace, a New York-based research firm preparing leaders for workplace disruptions, and View, a technology company creating smart and connected buildings, today announced the results of a new research study entitled, “The Workplace Wellness Study.”

Out of the 1,601 North American employees surveyed, 67% of employees said they are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment. One-third said they lose at least an hour of productivity each day due to office environments that don’t support their daily health. 

Air quality was cited as the most positive influence on wellness, with only one in four reporting that their office air quality was suitable to do their best work. Almost half of all employees (44%) said poor air quality makes them feel sleepy during the workday, and 28% reported that poor air quality creates symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes or throat irritation. 37% of employees said these symptoms improve when they leave the building at the end of the day.

Comfortable lighting was the second most highly-rated wellness factor. Yet 60% of workers reported that their companies don’t provide the adequate level of lightrequired for optimal job performance. In addition, access to natural light, daylight and outdoor views all outranked an on-site gym and a pet friendly workplace policy as an existing emotional wellness strategy in the workplace.  

Additional highlights from the report include:

Employees want personal control of their workspace environment. Nearly half of employees (48%) want the ability to personalize their dedicated workplace environment from a phone app. Almost half want to use an app to personalize the temperature of their workspace while more than a third would like to personalize their overhead lighting, desk lighting and levels of natural light with an app. Workers ranked personalization of the workspace environment more highly than unlimited vacation.

Workplace temperature is never good enough. One third of employees said it was continuously too hot or too cold in their offices. Only 1 in 3 respondents (33%) thought that their office temperature was set to do their best work.  

Poor office acoustics create distractions. Office privacy is a distraction for almost half (47%) of all office employees. Only 1 in 5 workers (22%) feel their office acoustics are suitable to do their best work. 

Attention to employee wellness factors impacts recruiting and the employee experience. More than two-thirds of employees said a work environment that supports and enhances their health and well-being would encourage them to accept a job offer or to stay at their current job.

“The research shows that employer health and wellness efforts fall short despite company investments in on-site gyms, ergonomics and healthy food choices," says Jeanne Meister, Founding Partner, Future Workplace. "It’s the invisible factors such as air quality and access to natural light that are often overlooked yet provide a significant influence on workplace wellness, employee productivity and the overall quality of the employee experience.”

“It’s clear that buildings that address essential human needs such as good quality air, access to natural light and comfortable temperatures create healthier and more productive employees,” said Dr. Brandon Tinianov, chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Advisory Council and vice president of industry strategy at View. “These findings are a wake-up call to every executive who wants to maximize the wellness and productivity of their workforce.” 

Download an eBook of the report here.


Research findings are based on a global survey conducted by Savanta across the US and Canada between April 23rd – 29th, 2019. For this survey, 1601 respondents were asked general questions to explore thoughts on workplace environment, personalization of the work environment, and privacy and security at work. The study targeted 18 to 74-year-olds who work in a corporate office environment at least 3 days per week.