With summer now upon us, we look at why and how we should all be letting a bit of the outside into our offices.

Summer is a time when people typically enjoy outdoor activities such as barbecues, socializing in public places, and taking walks in parks. However, during the week, office workers may have to suppress their desire to be outside as they spend most of their time sitting in meetings or working at their desks. This can be frustrating and even detrimental to their health, as getting outside may only be possible during the rush hour commute or a short lunch break.

According to research, our dependence on technology is causing problems with our physical health, such as vision, posture, and muscle strain, as well as our mental well-being. To counteract these negative effects, incorporating natural elements such as wood, stone, water, and plants into office design has become a popular trend known as biophilia. By harmonizing indoor spaces with the natural environment, employees can escape the constant demands of technology and become more productive and content at work.

As more research supports the link between the environment and employee well-being, designing outdoor spaces for staff to enjoy has become increasingly popular. When outdoor spaces are not available, businesses are bringing natural elements and themes into their office space, such as outside furniture, faux grass, and natural finishes.

Take a look at some of these great examples and see what can happen when you let the outside into your office.

PwC, Bristol

If you’re lucky enough to have views like this from the top of your office, it’s worth making the most of them! At PwC we created this lush patio area using wooden benches and rectangular planters which act as partitions between each seating area. The spacious set up makes the area suitable for informal meetings, relaxing with colleagues or simply taking a break from the office and working in the fresh air. When the weather’s not good enough to work outside, the floor to ceiling windows mean you can always appreciate the view!

PwC outdoor space office refurbishment

HMRC, Benton Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

We transformed the ground floor of HMRC's Benton Park campus into a delightful atrium; inspired by the North East's coastline. From the beach hut-styled meeting pods with iconic Northern beach scenes, to the indoor tree surrounded by collaborative work areas, and the indoor canopy that encompasses a shared work space. This atrium is full of natural light and provides an outdoor escape for HMRC's teams all year round. Studies have taught us that even images of nature are enough to reduce anxiety and boost our performance, and looking at this picturesque breakout space, it’s easy to understand why. Staff can use the area to relax or host a meeting.

HMRC trees and office pods

Interface, Birmingham

This Regional BCO Award-Winning office fit out takes indoor biophilia up a notch. While natural finishes are used throughout the office space, the real start of the show is the indoor wisteria tree that graciously winds above the coffee bar that greets staff and guests alike as they enter the office. Its pink flowers provide a welcome colour pop that sets the tone for the rest of this modern office. Hanging plants are used to create an additional sense of privacy at some of the communal working areas throughout the office as well.

Interface office design and build

AstraZeneca, Cambridge

At AstraZeneca’s Cambridge office, workers don’t need to go far to feel the benefits of the natural world. With far reaching views across lush green lawns, these floor-to-ceiling windows allow staff to take in views of the mature trees and open skies, feeling like they’re in the heart of the countryside. The office fit out features bespoke wooden structures which frame the outside view, whilst providing a unique design feature. The natural surroundings are complemented by the wooden furniture, green fabric on the seat cushions and green pillars in the breakout area.

Astra Zeneca office refurbishment