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

Well summer is finally here. Weekends consist of barbecues, socialising in pub gardens and walks in the park, as we are lured outside to enjoy the great outdoors in all its glory. But what happens during the week? Our innate desire to be outside is, for many office workers, suppressed. For the thousands of office workers who are sat in meetings or glued to their desks, getting outside only happens during the rush hour commute or a brief lunch break to buy a sandwich. The reality is that for those people who are spending summer in the office, this is more than just a bit frustrating, and can even be detrimental to our health.

Research has shown that our over reliance on technology is leading to problems with vision, posture and muscle strain, and our mental health. Conversely, exposure to natural elements like wood, stone, water and plants can act to counteract a number of the negative effects of the modern workplace. This has given birth to the recent trend of incorporating biophilia into office design; whereby we seek to harmonise the indoors with the natural environment. In the workplace, using these natural elements within an office fit out can provide the perfect antidote to being ‘always on’, whilst also making us more productive and content with our workplace.

With growing amounts of research now supporting the links between our environment and employee wellbeing, we’re seeing a growing trend of designing outside spaces for staff to enjoy. Where outside space isn’t available, clients are choosing to bring outside elements and themes inside the office space, including 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 communal space refurb

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 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 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