A room with a view: How windows increase perceptions of office space

The move towards COVID-secure workplaces presents new challenges for office layouts. Employees need to be spaced apart where possible, facing in one direction instead of face-to-face across a desk.

As a result, employees can be left feeling as though they have less space, not more, with less flexibility to accommodate teams in efficient ways or to leave more room between desks.

Our serviced offices in Manchester and London offer one way to add to your total workspace, as a temporary or permanent way to give each employee a genuine increase in the amount of empty space around them.

And it’s not just their area of floor space that can be beneficial, as research shows a room with a view feels more spacious for employees than one without.

Personal space and the virtual disc

A study published in the psychological sciences repository PsyArXiv surveyed 20 participants from the UK and 24 from South Korea, to identify similarities and differences between office workers’ perceptions of their personal space.

They found that the ‘virtual disc’ – the circle of perceived personal space that surrounds individual employees – is bigger in both cultures when the office has a good view of the outside world.

“We found that, in both cultures, participants experienced greater perceived personal space when in a sparse rather than dense office, and having a view of the city outside the office,” the researchers wrote.

At a time when there are tighter restrictions on how sparsely employees can be spaced out, the study indicates that a room with a view can help to increase workers’ satisfaction levels.

Casual culture

In the research, participants were shown virtual reality office environments, for example including shared office space, individual enclosed offices, and so on.

The researchers kept some aspects of these virtual reality environments the same, but varied others to make the virtual offices appear natural to participants from different backgrounds.

As a result, Korean participants were shown a formal workplace with employees seated at their desks, whereas British participants were shown a mix of more casual clothing and moments spent away from the desk, such as chatting around the watercooler.

We cater for these different ways of working in our serviced offices in Manchester and London, with the option of a formal desk arrangement, but also kitchen areas and breakout rooms for more casual chats about work and other subjects.

Making virtual offices a reality

The offices in this research were virtual reality, but our virtual offices in London and Manchester are real reality, giving you a way to increase each employee’s personal space by allowing more of them to work seamlessly from home.

We provide virtual offices in Manchester and London, at the same addresses as our physical serviced offices.

A virtual office means you can work from anywhere, but with the benefit of professional-looking contact details that base the public face of your business at one of our office buildings.

If you need to meet a client or job applicant in person, we have meeting rooms for hire. Or combine our virtual and physical serviced offices into a single mixed-mode workspace that supports your social distancing efforts, for a truly COVID-secure office.

Overhead, task lighting and natural daylight in shared office spaces

We all know lighting is an important element in serviced offices, but how do the different kinds of lighting combine to influence employee satisfaction in modern shared offices?

A recent study in Frontiers in Built Environment looked at satisfaction levels among employees in a newly retrofitted Seattle office block.

Workers in the refurbished offices were asked to rate their workplace in terms of how satisfied they were with it, both before and after the redecoration was carried out.

Lighting was one element of the survey, along with other environmental qualities like air quality, acoustics, workplace layout and size.

In particular, the researchers found that employees were generally happy with light levels, even when the overhead illumination was less bright than is usually recommended.

Putting employees in control of lighting

Part of the retrofit process involved giving employees more control over their lighting. Overhead lighting was replaced with remote control LED fixtures with adjustable colour and temperature capabilities.

Each employee also had task lighting so they could illuminate their own area without affecting their colleagues, and access to natural light where windows were not blocked by neighbouring buildings.

Interestingly, the study found four statistically significant improvements in satisfaction after the retrofit:

  • Aesthetics of work area
  • Amount of desktop lighting
  • Amount of light for computer work
  • Access to an outside view

This serves to underline how the visual appearance – including lighting and aesthetics – of a shared workplace can have a big impact on employee satisfaction.

Saving energy on office lighting

The study revealed results with useful implications for saving energy on office lighting. In particular, employees working with backlit computer displays did not need bright ambient lighting.

In fact, the workers in one of the offices surveyed specifically requested lower lighting levels from overhead.

At the same time, the researchers found the office managers used relatively dim overhead lighting – below the normal recommended light intensity – as part of efforts to save energy consumption.

Natural light is of course one way to illuminate shared and serviced offices without running up an electricity bill.

Individual task lighting, especially using energy-efficient LED bulbs, ensures employees can brighten their own work area when necessary, such as for paper work instead of screen time, again without unnecessary energy expenditure.

Light and bright serviced offices

Our own serviced offices in London and Manchester make good use of natural daylight whenever possible, with waterside locations and large windows for unobstructed views of the outside world.

At times artificial lighting is essential, especially in winter, so we take advantage of light, bright colour schemes that are easy to light from overhead or with task lighting.

And when your employees need to take a break from the office – for example, to look at something other than a backlit computer screen – we provide comfortable breakout rooms and easy access to outside spaces for a refreshing walk.

Finally, we allow our tenants to add their own branding and colour schemes to the serviced office space they occupy – so if you want to put your own stamp on your space, just let us know.