NewsResearchReport: Employees deem sustainable workplaces more important than annual bonus

Employees are putting sustainability at the forefront of workplace standards, new research shows after polling over 3,451 office workers throughout the United Kingdom.
Sophie Crossley1 year ago7 min

Ideals of the modern office employee are rapidly shifting: now, sustainable workplaces are taking precedent in the hierarchy of work requirements. A new UK-wide report, released to coincide with London’s Ecocity World Summit, voices the opinions of office workers on sustainability goals for the first time since the pandemic.

Developed in partnership between Brookfield Properties and Foster + Partners, Design of the Workplace specifically speaks to the nonnegotiables now facing employers: healthy workplace design and company commitment to sustainability. These are no longer nice-to-haves, but absolute musts that are being demanded by employees across the board.

Company callout: Is your business run sustainably?

Power is now in the hands of employees, with a whopping eight out of ten employees aged 18-29 (83%) deeming it important that their company is run in a sustainable, climate-forward way. Another three quarters (75%) of office workers want to understand the carbon footprint of their workplace.

Taking it a step further, just under a third (30%) would consider leaving their jobs if their company didn’t demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainable operational practices. This shows that employee’s values are steadfast, with the biggest push for change coming from younger workers. While 82% of respondents 18-44 years old voiced the importance of workplaces being run in a sustainable way, this number dropped to 71% in those over 45.

Other company ‘must haves’ for modern employees include:

  • Genuine commitment to reaching net zero (27%)
  • A clear policy on environmental commitments (27%)
  • Having a sustainable workplace (34%)
  • Receiving an annual bonus (29%)

“More and more, we are seeing that workers want to be engaged in finding and implementing sustainable practices when it comes to the buildings they work in,” adds Foster + Partners.

two tables in an office building with people sitting at them

Environmentally friendly offices positively impact wellbeing and productivity

Sustainable office spaces can be just as good for its employees as for the environment. Three quarters (74%) of participants said that they feel more productive and creative when working in an office environment compared to home, with an even higher number (90%) believing that sustainable workplace design is good for both their wellbeing and the planet.

A quarter of office workers (24%) said that working in environmentally unfriendly makes them feel unwell.

Employee wellbeing, as it intertwines with office design, also affects a business’s bottom line. A previous study by Harvard found that for every 1 degree deviation in optimal room temperature, there was a 2 percent decrease in output. The translation? Poor design leads to worse employee health and poorer performance.

Moving forward: Better buildings and businesses

Now, companies are faced with the question, “Where does office design go from here?” The report highlights the top elements that modern young workers believe help create a well-designed workplace:

woman sitting at a table with a colourful chandelier overhead

  • Good ventilation (42%)
  • High levels of natural light (40%) and clever lighting (38%)
  • Effective heating control (35%)
  • Natural ventilation (33%)
  • Adaptable desks and chairs (33%)
  • Plentiful recycling facilities (31%)
  • Fast internet connection (40%)

With knowledge and information readily at hand, employees are challenging companies to act sustainably – for both their buildings and their people.


Perspectus Global polled 3,451 office workers who work at least two days per week in their company office, comprising 1,155 respondents from London and at least 200 each from key cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham, Cardiff and Leicester. Of the total number, 3,250 respondents came via the Perspectus Global panel and 201 came via the Brookfield Properties’ tenants survey outreach.

Sophie Crossley

Sophie Crossley is our Content Editor. She has 5+ years of experience in comms with a focus on wellbeing, the built environment, and lifestyle.

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