As the world re-opens and the workforce re-enters the workplace, we continue to navigate what this new, post-pandemic office environment will look like.
One thing is certain. The heightened sense of awareness of our health, safety, and well-being is the driving factor to many new workplace trends, including the highly demanded outdoor office. Mental health awareness has been magnified over the quarantine, and as a result, how we work, where we work, and how our workplace makes us feel is now under a microscope.
The workforce is experiencing never-before-seen-demands and employees are taking control, and are enforcing new work-life balance standards.
After nearly two years of being cooped up inside, fresh air and a fresh, flexible workspace is a top priority for many employees considering their return.
A market that was once over-looked is now driving the future of workplace design. Outdoor spaces and biophilia are not only a necessity in today’s office, but they are quickly becoming the foundational curb appeal that every modern office needs to attract and retain top talent.
Employees want options. They want the option to choose how they work and where they work. Whether it is working from home, in the office, or at the office but outside-options are non-negotiable, and many employers are struggling to get their employees to return.
Why are outdoor spaces and biophilic design important?
The pandemic forced people to take a deeper look into their safety and wellbeing at home and in the office. From cleaning and sanitizing worksurfaces to investing in better air filtration systems- outdoor workspaces and biophilic design have quickly became a trend that is here to stay.
Recent data indicates that more and more individuals find working outside to be better for their health and wellbeing. According to Harvard Medical, interacting with nature and natural spaces offers therapeutic benefits.
For example, calming nature sounds is known to lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. According to Dr. Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, “Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state and there are many ways to tap into it.”
This data reveals that biophilic design can have a profound effect on not only our mental health, but our productivity and ability to focus while at work. Learn more about how to add biophilia to your workspace here.
But most importantly, employees want to know that they are safe, and that their mental and physical health is a top priority.
Benefits of outdoor spaces and biophilia
Fresh Air + Vitamin D
No more breathing poorly filtered office air. Getting outside for some fresh air is a great way to encourage workplace wellness at your facility. Fresh air has higher levels of oxygen which in return improves lung health, boosts your energy, increases mental focus, lowers blood pressure and heart rates, and so much more.
Calming and Relaxing
For over a decade we have placed emphasis on the impact and importance nature and natural elements within the workspace have on our mental health. Simply put, nature magically changes our moods and emotions when it comes to day-to-day activities and stresses.
Sure, adding wood elements, natural lighting and plants help our office landscape but nothing beats being outside, soaking up sunshine and Vitamin D, hearing birds and feeling a gentle breeze.
Less Distractions and More Productive
As previously mentioned, fresh air increases mental focus. But creating a place where employees can go to escape office distractions or alternatively, go outside as an effort to not distract others, is a way of staying productive and respecting others who may be trying to focus.
Current Biophilic and Outdoor Workplace Trends
Not every office space is created equal meaning not every space will have the same opportunity to create a desired workspace outside. However, there are things you can do to bring the outside in.
A trend we are seeing a lot of right now is the transition of phone booths or small phone rooms into small outdoor retreats. If you have a storefront or a small outdoor space, great! Simply putting a small table and a few chairs will do the trick, but if your confined to four walls, consider acoustic wall coverings with a nature printed as the pattern. Better yet, cover the entire wall!
Don’t have a phone room or small meeting space? Create a small get-a-way zone utilizing planters, small-scaled furniture or furniture with built-in planters.
Green walls were trending pre-pandemic, but are now in high demand, especially in spaces that have little access to the outdoors. If live walls are too costly, consider the wall with faux plants or acoustic moss. Even the appearance of nature has a profound effect on our mental wellness and stress levels.
No open wall to dedicate? Hang plants from the ceiling. This trend is gaining that next-level wow factor in many award-winning office spaces.
Are you working with a limited budget? Then I have one word for you-planters. The simple act of adding planters to your office will not only bring the outside in but will help transform your office into a cozy and inviting workplace.
Does your workplace have a dedicated outdoor space? If so, then consider a variety of tables, chairs and umbrellas that provide shade when needed. Don’t forget a few lounge pieces for those who want to sit back and enjoy the moment.
Another trend that is gaining a lot of excitement with employees and counts towards your LEED credit is having an outdoor vegetable or herb garden. Whether you have a dedicated flower bed or just a few planters, there is something exciting and humbling about growing your own food.
Consider growing herbs, tomatoes, peppers, or anything that is easy to harvest and can be quickly added to someone’s lunch. My favorite are lemon trees. Who doesn’t love fresh squeezed lemon water during the day?
Need more inspiration? Contact us today and one of our experienced team members will help get your workspace transformed into a space fit for your employee’s return.