Architecture & Design, Human Resources, and Real Estate

4 ways to bring nature into the office

May 29, 2018
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Now that warmer weather is finally here, your team is likely itching to get outside to enjoy some much-needed sunshine and fresh air. One way you can help your team experience more of the outdoors at work is by bringing natural elements into the office.

Nature-inspired design is a growing workplace trend. Numerous studies also have shown the productivity and wellness benefits of nature-inspired office design. One study found that exposure to nature can have a lasting positive effect on the mind. Research by Coalesse, a division of Steelcase, confirms that bringing nature into the office can help attract and retain employees. Bringing nature indoors helps people do their best work while improving their overall well-being.

If your workplace has experienced some cabin fever over the long winter months, here are some ideas of ways to bring nature into the workplace this spring.

1. Incorporate biophilia design

Biophilia is a term used to describe humans’ bond with nature. Biophilia design brings nature-inspired elements indoors through furniture, fabrics, colors, plants and natural light. One way to freshen up your office’s interior is by incorporating fabrics that replicate nature. Designtex produces a biophilia textile that brings nature into an office environment and is often used in health care environments. This fabric mimics nature by using colors, textures and patterns that capture wildlife and the natural world. For example, Grand Rapids-based Pine Rest incorporated biophilia into its new in-patient facility to bring natural elements into its expanded building.

2. Increase greenery throughout the office

Studies have shown that bringing plants into the office can improve employee productivity and happiness. Take the greenery in your office to the next level by building a moss wall or adding planters to your bookshelves. You also can add plants to open workspaces, such as reception areas and employee work cafes. Incorporating living plants and greenery walls can increase oxygen levels in the workplace, too, making the air feel fresher.

3. Use natural materials

Greenery isn’t the only way to bring nature into the office. Natural materials like stone, wood, slate and even water can help bring the outdoors inside. These materials can be incorporated as finishes or even into furniture, such as designing a conference table out of natural wood. For example, Green Giftz incorporated exposed wood into the walls of its new office for a natural look and feel that reflects its earth-friendly products.

4. Use natural colors

Use organic color pallets and earthy tones to bring nature into your workspace. Colors such as greens, browns and tans can mimic trees and plants, where blues and whites can mimic water and the sky. These colors can be incorporated into furniture, wall colors and even flooring. For example, Blandford Nature Center’s new visitor center that opened in 2017 incorporates natural colors, including greens and blues, into its furniture.

We’ve all had those days when we leave the office and realize we haven’t been outside all day, which is why we should create workspaces that allow us to experience nature in small ways, every day. Incorporating some of these nature-inspired ideas into your workplace will not only boost productivity, but they will also help your employees feel more creative and engaged at work.

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