Nature in the Workplace: 6 Ways To Do It Well

By | April 14th, 2016|Wellbeing, Workplaces|

Bringing nature into the workplace is not only a beautiful design element, but has been shown to reduce stress, minimize illness and enhance employee wellbeing. Whether your workplace has green spaces inside or access to green spaces outside, the impact is overwhelmingly positive. There are at least two factors that have influenced this focus on green offices:

  • Years ago, workplace design pushed green initiatives to minimize the effects of hazardous chemicals. Those initiatives are now an integral part of design, regardless of the need for LEED certification.
  • The Biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is a need for us to bond with nature. Translating that into workplace design, studies have found that a holistic approach to wellbeing in the workplace includes bringing nature inside.

Here are 6 ways to incorporate nature into your office.

1. Windows

Take advantage of your windows and arrange workstations facing an outside view. If blinds are needed to deflect sunlight, use perforated dark shades to filter light rather than totally blocking it. In this way, you can still have an outside view.

2. Natural Light

If possible, flood the workplace with daylight. Use glass walls or a translucent material for space dividers, amplifying all available natural light. If natural light is not an option, a well-lit general office space with artificial lighting will still help with productivity. Consider providing task lights for each individual workspace, whether traditional desking spaces or lounge areas.

3. Plants

Incorporate plants into the design. Vertical gardens add a beautiful, unexpected design element, and small potted plants bring a freshness into any space. Add them liberally—but don’t forget to water and plan for maintenance.

4. Sounds

The sound of water is also relaxing and unique to nature. If possible, incorporate a man-made waterfall or pond if space allows it. If it doesn’t, small spa-like water machines can accomplish the same thing but on a much smaller scale.

5. Materials

Use materials that evoke nature like wood laminates for desks or bookcases instead of white laminates. The tone of wood brings warmth into the space.

6. Outdoors

Create settings that mimic something you would find outdoors like a picnic table for the break room or patio tables with umbrellas for gathering spaces. If you are handy, create interior architecture reminiscent of nature. Tall, textured structures can represent trees, and pergola-like ceilings simulate backyard spaces.