Let the outside in

While the work week may confine us indoors, research shows that bringing elements of nature into our workplaces can have a profound impact on our wellbeing and productivity. Let's delve into why and how we should all be embracing a touch of the outside in the office.

The Impact of Technology

Our increasing reliance on technology has undoubtedly shaped the way we work. However, it's important to recognise the effects it has on our physical and mental wellbeing. Vision strain, poor posture, and muscular discomfort are common concerns. To counteract these effects, the concept of biophilia has gained traction in office design. Biophilia involves seamlessly integrating natural elements like wood, stone, water, and plants into indoor spaces, providing employees with a respite from the demands of technology and fostering a more harmonious and fruitful work environment.

The Link Between Environment and Wellbeing

A wealth of research supports the connection between the environment and employee wellbeing. Studies have shown that office integration with nature can lead to significant benefits:

  1. Increased Productivity: According to a study by Human Spaces, employees working in offices with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight reported a 15% higher level of wellbeing and a 6% increase in productivity.
  2. Stress Reduction: Exposure to nature has been proven to reduce stress levels. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that employees with views of nature from their desks experienced lower stress levels compared to those without such views.
  3. Improved Mental Health: A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology revealed that interacting with indoor plants in office environments led to reduced psychological and physiological stress, as well as improved mood and concentration.

Read on to see some inspiring examples of incorporating nature into the office.

PwC, Bristol

PwC's Bristol office offers a stunning example of how to maximise the natural environment. With breathtaking views from the top, a lush patio area was created using wooden benches and rectangular planters as partitions between seating areas. This versatile outdoor setting allows for informal meetings, colleague bonding, or simply a breath of fresh air. And when the weather doesn't cooperate, floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that the view is always appreciated.

PwC outdoor space office refurbishment

HMRC, Benton Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The ground floor of HMRC's Benton Park campus underwent a remarkable transformation, drawing inspiration from the scenic North East coastline. Beach hut-styled meeting pods adorned with Northern beach scenes, an indoor tree surrounded by collaborative work areas, and an inviting indoor canopy all contribute to an atrium that bathes in natural light and offers a year-round outdoor escape. Studies have shown that even visual representations of nature can reduce anxiety and enhance performance.

HMRC trees and office pods

Interface, Birmingham

Interface's award-winning office fit out in Birmingham takes indoor biophilia to new heights. Natural finishes seamlessly blend with the workspace, but the true showstopper is the indoor wisteria tree gracefully winding above the coffee bar at the entrance. Its vibrant pink flowers create a striking visual centrepiece that sets the tone for the entire office. Hanging plants provide privacy and a touch of greenery to communal work areas.

Interface office design and build

AstraZeneca, Cambridge

At AstraZeneca's Cambridge office, employees can enjoy the splendour of the natural world without venturing far. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame expansive views of lush green lawns, mature trees, and open skies, evoking a sense of being surrounded by countryside serenity. The office fit out incorporates bespoke wooden structures that not only frame the outdoor view but also serve as unique design features. Wooden furniture, green fabric cushions, and green pillars in the breakout area perfectly complement the natural surroundings.

Astra Zeneca office refurbishment

By embracing the great outdoors in our office fit outs, we can create environments that inspire productivity, reduce stress, and enhance overall wellbeing. Let's take inspiration from nature and infuse our workspaces with the invigorating essence of the outdoors.