Posted on 20th Aug 2015
As employee comfort and well being continues to move to the forefront of workspace design, the concept of outdoor spaces has begun to emerge. Companies are beginning to sketch in outdoor work spaces when they design their next draft, and the leading thinkers in creativity and innovation are even suggesting that parks may one day become ‘the new office’.
Being out in the sunshine is a mood-booster for many, accompanied by an often noticeable drop in mood when the weekend is over and we have to step back into the office. A new trend in office furniture design is set to reduce that Monday morning mood drop by ensuring workers get more time outdoors during the working day. From potted-plants dotted on a patio to hot-decking at the neighbourhood park, over the next year you are sure to see more and more workplaces moving to the outdoors for design inspiration.
Spending more time outside has known health benefits to both physical and emotional health. These benefits translate into more productivity, increased creativity and reduced time away from work due to illness and injury, however many outdoor workspaces aren’t suitable for some working situations, providing sun-glare, lack of electricity power-points and varying weather.
Relocating your team to a park may not be a viable option for many people due to space, cost and even local climate, besides - some people really enjoy the culture and environment of a traditional office space. How can we still reap the rewards of the great outdoors without having to take such drastic measures? Encouraging time outdoors can still have significant effects of employee health & wellbeing. If your company spans multiple buildings then implementing walking paths can encourage workers to get outside and visit other workspaces, this benefits the company as a whole by encouraging integration of different departments and skills, as well as providing the known benefits that come from time outside and the regular gentle exercise of moving around.
Does your workspace have room to grow? Expanding the office out into a garden, park-like setting or patio space provides a change to the office culture, a new environment to foster outdoor-meetings and a great opportunity for inspiring workers to step outside for a breath of fresh air the next time they have a call or video-conference. Confined to the four walls of a high-rise or otherwise non-expandable workspace? Even the simple act of ensuring there is adequate natural light shining in, good circulation of fresh air and the addition of green leafy plants could have a surprising effect, as a number of well-known offices have found out. The co-workers at Twitter headquarters are bathed in natural light from a large number of floor-to-ceiling windows, large green living wall made up of plants and a building-top open-air garden workspace. These bursts of nature have been shown to increase productivity by over 10% in a number of different workspace studies.
Whether moving your workspace outdoors or bringing nature into the office, the benefits are clearly noticeable. Next time you are brainstorming ways to improve worker satisfaction, amount of sick-leave or productivity levels, consider altering the workspace environment, you might find it provides the change in culture that your company needs.
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