Employers should be focusing on the basics of office design to improve employee productivity, according to a new survey.

The survey, by Future Workplace and View Inc., polled about 1,600 North American workers. It found air quality, natural light, temperature and noise level were key factors to comfort and productivity at work, with nearly half of respondents saying they wanted their companies to improve on those factors.

“In many instances, employees would rather see employers improve the workplace environment [than] improve organizational policies or perks,” the survey said.

Read: Is an open concept working environment ideal for employees?

When asked to rank their top three workplace wellness perks, 58 per cent of respondents cited air quality, followed by comfortable light (50 per cent), water quality (41 per cent), comfortable temperature (34 per cent), office acoustics (30 per cent) and a connection to nature (30 per cent). Fewer survey respondents ranked healthy food choices (26 per cent), fitness facilities (16 per cent) and technology-based health tools (13 per cent).

Almost half of respondents said poor air quality at their office makes them sleepy throughout the workday, and just one in four said the air quality was optimal for them to do their best work. Close to one third of employees said they experience itchy, watery eyes or throat irritation at work, and 45 per cent said companies could improve their wellness by providing fresh, allergen-free air.

The survey also found just a third of respondents said the temperature in their office is ideal for doing their best work, and another third said their workplace is constantly too hot or too cold. Forty-five per cent said employers should provide an environment with a temperature that isn’t too far to either extreme.

Read: Employees divided on productivity, stress of work-space configurations: survey

Respondents also considered it important to have natural light in their office, with almost 40 per cent saying their companies should provide access to outdoor views. One in three said access to comfortable light was important for their daily health.

Nearly half of employees said they were distracted by their coworkers’ conversations, while more than a third said sounds like ringing phones, typing on keyboards and the drone of heating or cooling systems affected their productivity. More than a third (37 per cent) said they want their company to create an environment with “low noise levels and sound privacy.”

In addition, the survey found 42 per cent of respondents said they want the option to adjust workspace conditions. Almost half (48 per cent) said they want to personalize the temperature in their workspace, 33 per cent want changes to their overhead, desk or natural lighting and another 33 per cent want the ability to mask the noise around them using an app.

Read: How to manage diverse needs in converting to open offices

“The research shows that employer health and wellness efforts fall short despite company investments in on-site gyms, ergonomics and healthy food choices,” said Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace. “It’s the invisible factors . . . that are often overlooked yet provide the greatest influence on workplace wellness, employee productivity and the overall quality of the employee experience.”

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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