It’s a crisp summer morning. Squirrels hop joyfully from branch to branch. Crickets release their final melodies as you sip of your favorite morning brew. Soft early light illuminates brilliant patterns on the forest floor. Each inhale brings in scents of renewed life….

Nature gives us an intuitive feeling of relaxation and renewal… even if we’re only picturing it. Imagine bringing that clear mindset to work. That’d be pretty sweet, right?

While working in a forest might not be feasible for everyone, working in a nature-inspired office is a brilliant compromise. Workplaces that integrate nature into their design (also called biophilic design) provide numerous benefits to workers. Let’s delve into 1. what these benefits are, 2. how to greenify our workspaces, and 3. why we need to bring the outdoors into our work spaces.

Nature in the Office – Nature Connects Us to the World

One of the top reasons for job burnout is rooted in elevated levels of stress. We all know that. Unsurprisingly, workplaces that keep nature in mind tend to reduce stress in employees. Adding greenery could be as simple as utilizing earthy design elements or as extreme as Apple’s circular campus. There are many unique ways to spruce up (get it, spruce) the office.

Elements of biophilic design could be implemented in a home office, too. A houseplant or two will help brighten the space. If your thumb isn’t the greenest, studies show that even a few pictures of greenery can help people calm their nervous systems.

On a planetary note, would a plant wall or a large window to an outdoor landscape remind us to keep the Earth in mind when making decisions? I can’t imagine it would hurt.

Connection & Creativity – Nature Connects Us to Each Other

A 2019 study found that urban green spaces lead to increased social interactions. Think about it. Where do you feel more inclined to start a conversation with someone else: in a white-walled, artificially lit office or at the park on a sunny day? People are naturally more open minded in nature-inspired spaces. From an intuitive standpoint, the Earth is our home, so it’s only natural that we feel more “at home” in natural spaces.

A particularly wonderful branch of social interaction includes brainstorming and group thinks. A published study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that natural, spacious, unpredictable imagery can increase creativity. Nature is inspiring. Do you remember the last time you had a great idea on a walk outside or by a window looking out onto nature-filled view? It’s why so many artists paint landscapes. (Why do you think Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting was so popular?)

If people feel more creative and are more likely to interact, it gives more opportunity for innovation. Innovation has been the backbone of business since the first transaction. Shouldn’t we be doing all that we can to foster it?

Stress Reduction – Nature Connects Us to Ourselves

Cooper Marcus, a landscape architecture professor, hosted a study of people who visited hospital gardens. It showed that most visitors came “seeking relaxation and restoration from mental and emotional fatigue”… and the more greenery – the better! People came to those gardens for a break from the stress. We’re naturally drawn to outdoor environments because we’re looking to hit a temporary reset button.

In fact, “people were significantly more likely to report good health or well-being if they had spent more than 120 minutes in natural environments.” We feel good when we spend time outdoors and in natural spots. New luxury apartment buildings are adding outdoor green spaces to their designs. Tropical hotels feature vibrant landscaping to wow and relax guests.

Natural environments give us space to connect with who we are and where we come from. A workplace that is beautiful and natural could only help make it a more inviting place to work. Beyond biophilic design, allowing team members to take outside breaks could offer a reprieve from the day’s workplace pressures. A nature-inspired office shows that the business values the planet and the overall wellbeing of employees. This, in combination, with the company actions and culture, could help attract and retain top talent. Who doesn’t want to work somewhere nice?

Natural Workplaces

Back in the time of hunter-gathers, people relied on nature and each other for their livelihood and survival. That seems so far removed from our lifestyle now, but the concepts remain the same. We are essentially dependent on nature and other people to help us survive and thrive. Incorporating nature into the work scene helps us become more connected to ourselves, our team, and the world.

Businesses looking for people to come back to the office after remote work need to make it a safe, productive, inviting space. Greenery could help with that. Some ways to greenify the office include (pictures included for inspiration below):

  • A living green wall to help with air quality and temperature control
  • Water features
  • Indoor and outdoor plants
  • Openable windows for natural ventilation
  • Natural lighting
  • Using nature-inspired materials and colors
  • Outdoor spaces for working or breaks
  • Nature-inspired art
  • Outdoor meetings
  • Letting pets visit the office (if possible)

We are entwined with nature in more ways that we could ever understand. Beyond the scientific studies and research, there’s an indescribable feeling of ease that nature gives us. Greenifying work spaces is another step toward creating better paradigm.

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Published On: 04/30/2024 / Categories: POVs & Blogs / Tags: , , /

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