Part of the grey reality of the rat-race in the concrete jungle, is being entrapped for most of your hours in a day surrounded by four cold concrete walls. However, in this age of biomimicry and the acknowledgement of nature as energy that propels creativity, it would seem that many of these corporate cells are in great need of greening and drawing the “outside within” in order to constructively craft for their various corporations.
Natural light – The desire for workplaces infused with natural light has increased as it is now linked with the employees’ wellbeing. The fundamental health benefits of access to natural light are causing some firms to re-imagine their workspace and tout this as a recruiting tool. In a study led by Cornell University, Professor Dr Alan Hedge reinforces the relation of natural light and employee wellbeing. In fact, his research found optimisation of natural light in an office environment significantly improves health and wellness amongst workers.
Indeed, the study revealed that workers in daylight office environments reported a 51% drop in the incidence of eyestrain, a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and a 56% reduction in drowsiness. Factors such as the rapidly growing usage of mobile devices are also contributing to tiredness and fatigue. Humans have an inbuilt desire to have daily contact with the natural world outside. Natural light isn’t the only important aspect of workplace wellness, of course. For example, one frequently cited study showed that improving air quality caused mental cognition to soar. But the Future Workplace Employee Experience Study found 78% of employees say access to natural light and views improves their wellbeing and 70% report improved work performance. The notion that the creation of the workplace environment is solely a real estate concern is an outdated concept. Today, employers recognize that the workplace environment is now part of the overall employee experience equation and a key lever to attract, engage, and retain top talent.
Biophilia – As companies increasingly look to empower their employees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing them in office spaces with the optimal amount of natural light should be one of their first considerations along with interior plants offer businesses a simultaneously natural and beautiful addition to their interior while benefiting the overall well-being of employees. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. By incorporating plant life into the design of your space, your staff will be able to enjoy nature’s beauty and the many physical and psychological benefits of office plants.
Plants not only bring varying rich shades of green to the workplace, they also offer the visually-meditative experience that, ultimately, leads to happier and healthier employees that are more productive. Providing plants for the office offers both customers and colleagues alike a visually enhanced perception of your space. An office teeming with vibrant greenery will also convey a positive brand image to visitors. Plants are commonly used to reduce noise pollution along highways and interstates. Using the same concept, plants in the workplace change room acoustics by reducing reverberation time.
Plants placed in areas with hard surfaces such as hardwood floors, concrete and marble walls, will effectively absorb noises which can be distracting and hurt employee productivity. Harvard biologist, E.O. Wilson, in his book: Biophilia (1984) proposed that humans have a natural tendency to affiliate with nature and other life-forms. The term, Biophilia, has since been used described humanity’s innate need for nature. It is hardly surprising that numerous members of the cubicle crowd have adopted a similar philosophy. The need to return to nature is as natural as the “cycle of life.”
Showcasing the universal connectivity of humans with their natural and built environments as well as enabling organisations to make links between their physical spaces and the performance of the people is crucial for their wellbeing.