Has there ever been a time, whilst you're sat at your desk during a long and stressful day, you have found yourself gazing longingly out of a window, wondering what it might be like to feel what it's like to be out there? Don't worry about admitting it: it's only natural (which is the point).

We've written much about biophilic office design in recent years; the practice of including more natural elements (or things that look like them)to evoke better feelings within a workplace, is one of the hottest trends around. Whether it's improving the window displays to allow increased amounts of sunlight in (instead of having to rely on fluorescent lights), introducing better temperature/air con controls or the simple placement of plants around the office, there are many things that can be put in place to create that outdoor environment, indoors.

Plants in office

The benefits of biophilic office design

Many supporters of the biophilic design theory have said that introducing such an office design has led to higher productivity, increased collaboration and lower staff turnover. Another reason why many businesses are taking a biophilic approach to the design of their office is that this nature connection maybe expected by the future of the workforce.

Currently aged between 18-35, the Millennial generation has already established themselves in their working lives (which have many decades to last), leaving them as the largest group in years to come. So for any business with designs on long-term success, keeping a low turnover of employees and retaining the best talents, is key.

In this article from National Geographic, author Richard Louv (who created the term 'nature-deficit disorder' – basically, the collection of feelings we suffer when we're cut off from nature) is adamant that creating a stronger connection to nature will increase creative thinking, lower stress and even improve physical health.

His theory is indeed backed by scientific research; one such piece of evidence involved 420 participants in Japan who spent an increased amount of time in forests across the country. The studies showed that overall, the vast majority of participants showed a decrease in cortisol (stress) levels, blood pressure and heart rate.

This is an indication that as human beings, we are designed to be around nature and that the daytime hours we spend indoors is probably negatively affecting our health. We simply need more exposure to fresh air. This has led to businesses to think about introducing a more health-conscious outlook to their office design. This could include encouraging healthy eating with the addition of better kitchen facilities, introducing a breakout room and relaxation areas to allow workers to disconnect from stress and, of course, creating the outdoor spaces that allow them to work in nature.

But how to achieve this without it costing the earth AND avoiding falling victim to the famously changeable British weather?

Pop-up workspaces are possible...

...thanks to the tech we have available. Easy to set-up and operate from, pop-up workspaces outside normally involve a stationary table and benchor collapsible furniture that can be packed up as quickly as it's unpacked (ideal to avoid a downpour of rain during the summer!) With the addition of a canopy,that outdoor space can even be used during the rainy times, or to provide some much-needed shade.

It wasn't long ago that the thoughts of the 'average office'was people, stuck at the same desks, typing away at their computers for 8 hours a day, without making much contact with people around them. The mobile devices and the wireless internet that we have at our disposal now has shaped how today's office is perceived; it allows workers to choose where (and often, when) they work. Whether it's typing away at a laptop, tapping at a tablet or using their phones to make voice/video calls, people simply do not have a dedicated desk anymore.

This has allowed businesses to think more about their office design and how their buildings can be better utilised to cater for flexibility and each individual's particular requirements. With biophilic design introducing a faux-outdoor atmosphere inside, many businesses have been taking the next step (and advantage of the flexible tech) to create spaces outdoors where people can work in nature.

Those with sufficient outdoor space have been introducing pop-up spaces in gardens or yards outside of the office, whilst others (who don't necessarily have the space) have used their ingenuity to create rooftop gardens to get their people outside. With the addition of covered space, at able, seating and a stronger Wi-Fi single, a business can help its employees to feel better at work, undoubtedly helping to improve their happiness and quality of work.

Need to learn more about biophilic design? Get in touch with the office design experts

If you're interested in placing a more natural feel to your working environment, either indoors or outdoors, why not get in touch with office design experts here at Oaktree Interiors for some sound advice? Give us a call on 0345 21 8695 or send any e-mail enquiries to hello@oaktreeoffice.com.

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