Technical Information

Return to Technical main page

Workplace Wellness

A report prepared for Forest & Wood Products Australia* by Andrew Knox, Howard Parry-Husbands, Pollinate** February 2018

Internationally and in Australia, there has been extensive research on the positive health and wellbeing impacts of spending time outside in nature. This research builds on the ‘biophilia hypothesis first popularised by Edward Wilson.

Wilson argued that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic design elements such as natural light, plants, nature views and water features are increasingly used in the modern built environment. In the last 35 years there have been studies exploring the relationship between exposure to these elements and wellbeing. Some of the key findings are outlined below.

  • Office design: productivity can be increased by 8% and rates of well-being increased by 13%
  • Education spaces: increased rates of learning, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD
  • Healthcare spaces: post-operative rates of recovery reduced by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
  • Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12% more for goods and services.
  • Homes: 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can command an increase of 4-5% in property price

More recently this hypothesis has been extended to include exposure to wood in the built environment. As a natural material, wood is thought to provide a connection to nature and therefore improve physical and mental wellbeing. Internationally, studies have demonstrated this relationship in offices, schools and hospitals.

However, to date there has been little rigorous primary research conducted in Australia. In the context of increasing urbanisation and declining exposure to nature, Pollinate undertook a large-scale study investigating the relationship between exposure to wood in the workplace and workers’ reported wellbeing.

The following document is based on the results of an online survey of 1000 ‘typical’ Australians working in indoor environments. The sample was recruited via an accredited market research panel and structured to reflect Australia’s indoor working population with respect to gender, age and location using Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.