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Chained to their desks: Survey finds that one in five office workers never gets out

Summer or winter, one in five British workers (22.4 percent) never gets out for lunch during a normal working week, even if it’s just to grab a sandwich or coffee.

If they do get out, it’s not for long, over a quarter (25.9 percent) of workers spend a maximum of 20 minutes outside during a typical working day in winter.

While a combination of weather and work pressure could be to blame, the findings from a survey of more than 1,200 office workers by workplace environment consultancy Ambius, highlights concerns that workforces, particularly in urban areas, are lacking a connection with nature and this can impact health and in turn, productivity.

The survey found that:

- One in five (22.4 percent) never goes out for a lunch break during the working week, 17.6 percent go out for lunch just once a week, 21.1 percent get out every day.

- More than a quarter (25.9 percent) spend no more than 20 minutes outside on a typical working day in winter - whether that’s on lunch, doing the school run or waiting for the bus or train.

- 34 percent have no access to green space for their lunch break.

- 40 percent have no views to green space or trees at work.

- 68 percent have no view of a plant from their work station.

- 30 percent feel their stress levels have worsened in the last year, 18 percent feel they have improved, 52 percent felt they have stayed the same.

Kenneth Freeman, international technical director for Ambius, said: “Getting outside in winter probably isn’t top of the priority list, particularly in urban environments. The problem is that one of our most fundamental requirements as human beings is to maintain a connection with nature even if it’s just a view of a plant or tree.

“If we don’t get outside and have no greenery or planting in view from inside, it can have a really detrimental effect on our welfare.

“While a park and some fresh air is ideal, the next best solution for workspaces devoid of any local green space is to bring the outside in. There have been a number of scientific studies showing how plants can make a major contribution to the health and well-being of people, reduce energy costs and increase productivity and profitability.

“Complaints of ‘sick building syndrome’ are frequently reduced when interior plants are installed. We’re not just talking about the humble pot plant, there are a variety of solutions to bring nature inside, from greenwalls which can also be used as room dividers, signage or feature branding, to trees and driftwood sculptures.

“Most of us just naturally feel better if we can see flowers or a plant from where we sit or a view of trees outside. When we need to calm down or reduce stress we take a walk in the woods or a park.

“Yet, whether by choice or simply location and the demands of modern life, many workers are losing touch with nature arguably at a time when it is most needed to keep mind and spirit healthy.”

Chained to the desk: Many staff never get to leave their desks, according to a British survey of office workers

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Published April 17, 2012 at 9:36 am (Updated April 17, 2012 at 9:36 am)

Chained to their desks: Survey finds that one in five office workers never gets out

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