Bring the great outdoors to your workplace
Even before COVID-19 darkened our office doors, many people with ‘desk jobs’ were enjoying outdoor meetings and taking their office work outside. Workplace biophilic design was driving this trend to work in a more natural physical environment. As well as the benefits of biophilia, providing an outdoor workspace today will demonstrate that your company is forward-thinking and committed to a COVID-safe physical environment.
Workplace design company Evoke Projects looks at the advantages of an outside space with some tips for bringing the great outdoors to your office.
Well-being at work
You may have heard of the social theory of first place (home), second place (work) and third place (community). Third places are public areas where we create our social connections and build human relationships, such as in parks, cafes and gyms; even social media counts as a third place today. Thought leaders often promote the idea of blending ‘places’ through modern workplace design, so that the distinction between work and play is not so pronounced. People feel energised and motivated when they are working, but not ‘at work’. Breakout zones, office-based coffee shops, courtyards, roof terraces and other al fresco areas are potential workplace solutions for bringing the third place to work.
This holistic approach to health and well-being translates into better engagement, concentration and creativity. In fact, research has shown that being outdoors and connected with nature improves creative problem solving ability by 50 per cent.1
People who feel like they have a better work-life balance are likely to exert 21% higher discretionary effort, leading to better customer satisfaction and higher performance.2 They feel more loyal to their current employer and work harder. So what better way to improve work-life balance than to bring more ‘life’ into work with an inspiring outdoor space?
Creating outdoor spaces in your workplace design
- The starting point will be how much space you can allocate. There will be natural constraints on your commercial fit-out space, but even a small courtyard is better than nothing. If you can create a large al fresco area that allows effective social distancing, it will provide benefits not only for employees, but also for client meetings.
- Your outdoor design strategy will need to consider the natural geography of your space. What is the climate like? What aspect does your space have? How sheltered is it from the sun, wind and rain? Canopies, umbrellas, cooling and heating devices, windbreak partitions and outdoor blinds can transform a weather-exposed area into a workplace oasis. Of course, seasons change, so the outdoor commercial fit-out should have flexibility to move with the seasons, for example, swapping summer fans for winter heat lamps.
- To get the maximum benefit, make the outdoor physical environment inspiring and welcoming. Consider a theme such as a Zen Garden (bridge over water, stone paths, lanterns, plants) or a Game Space (think over-sized chess game and outdoor dominos).
- As an employer, you will want to optimise productivity while people are working outdoors. Therefore, the outdoor workplace design should focus on functionality, with suitable seating, tables and collaboration space.
- Laptops and mobile devices will be heavily utilised in an outdoor workspace. Good Wi-Fi will be vital, and weatherproof power points will help that all-important charging!
So many changes have come to our workplaces in 2020. Entire companies have been working from home while others have rostered office time. An outdoor space might not have been on your radar for your next commercial fit-out, but today it is a logical step in forward thinking and COVID-safe workplace design. Evoke Projects can help you plan your design strategy for the future. Please call our workplace design team on 1300 720 692.