Can Office Design Help To Improve Staff Absenteeism?

Category: Office Design

Office Design Space

Many business owners are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that the office environment can have upon members of staff, especially in terms of productivity and overall happiness. However, relatively few of them are aware of the dramatic impact that a simple office refurbishment can have upon staff attendance figures.

Repeated studies show that dissatisfaction with the work environment contributes significantly to staff absences. This should be a cause for concern, as research published by The Work Foundation suggests that as many as 73 percent of employees are less than satisfied with their office or work space.

Workplace Problems

A positive workplace experience was considered either 'important', 'very important' or 'most important' to some 85 percent of participants in a recent CoreNet Global survey. Meanwhile, the previously referenced Work Foundation research found that up to a quarter of workers have 'serious complaints' about their office environment.

According to Human Spaces, some of the most common problems include a lack of natural light and a restricted view of the outside world. Furthermore, workplace research carried out by Knoll, Inc. found that older workers commonly cited a lack of acoustic privacy, while younger generations wanted a more visually stimulating environment.

Impact on Absenteeism

Multiple studies have linked poor office design with issues like reduced output, poor morale and lower job satisfaction levels. Additional research has found that unhappiness at work can contribute greatly to absences, as staff lack the necessary motivation to battle through illnesses and other attendance challenges.

More focused evidence shows that even basic design flaws can have a drastic impact on the attendance culture in a workplace. For instance, a study carried out for the British Council for Offices found that good lighting can reduce absenteeism by as much as 15 percent.

This is backed up by Human Spaces, who claim that 39 percent of all office-based employees in Europe work in an environment which does not provide them with a view of the outside world. They estimate that 10 percent of absences among that same group are a direct consequence of this lack of contact with nature.

Office Design Solutions

It seems as though office designers have their work cut out for them when it comes to solving these problems, so what can actually be done? Evidence suggests that lighting is a major cause for concern, so a first priority should be to make sure that a workplace has a sufficient number of windows and that natural light can get in.

Architect Sander Griffioen, meanwhile, argues that a focus should be placed on how space is utilised: “Efficiency takes a hit when you mix people focused on tasks such as writing with those on the phone or chatting with co-workers,” he says. “It is essential to create various spaces...to perform specific tasks.”

Companies like Google have found great success in creating modern, visually engaging office spaces, although this is not always practical for those operating on a limited budget. Instead, they should focus on priority elements: cleaning or painting dirty walls or ceilings, replacing worn carpets, improve lighting and trying to provide some level of privacy for


Posted 29th March, 2016

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