Adding natural elements to your office design is going to improve productivity, engagement and impress your clients and colleagues. Sounds like a good plan. Here are a few pointers on how to actually do it.

When we talk about including nature a working environment you might think we’re we’re suggesting a few houseplants, or landscape art prints on the walls. While these things might enhance your space, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the concept when it comes to inviting Mother Nature from the outside in, with a full renovation.

Even a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk can lift the spirit. Imagine the lift we can inspire when an entire space is planned and built with strong natural elements. If you’re planning an office renovation in the future, here are the best ways to include natural elements in your office design.

Overcoming Nature Deficit Disorder

Incorporating a nature-based design into your renovation theme from the very start is sure to help overcome “nature deficit disorder”. With most of us spending 35% of our waking hours in the workplace, the increase in creativity and productivity inspired by an ability to commune with the natural world in that workplace is an investment sure to produce high returns. Employees with access to nature in their work spaces reported a 13% higher level of well-being and 8% higher level of productivity.

We can create a serene, natural, nurturing space to which our employees and clients actually look forward to returning. The concept is coming to be known as “biophilic design“. 

Here are several ways we can create a biophilic renovation.

Maximize Natural Light

Inviting natural daylight into the space is one of the first steps to consider in a nature-themed renovation. Nothing screams “industrial/commercial” more than an over-abundance of harsh artificial fluorescent lighting. Removing blinds and coverings from windows and adding more window space and to allow more natural light is the cure. Designing communal areas around sources of natural light maximizes the experience for more employees. If possible add skylights or an atrium to your design. Natural light is one of the most obvious, yet often overlooked ways to invite the outside in.

Improve Artificial Light

Better artificial lighting in the workplace will also make an impact. Unlike the usual fluorescent and incandescent lighting you find in office settings, LED lighting can mimic sunlight. It’s healthier and friendlier for employees:

“Researchers are looking at how dialing up and down the brightness, color and richness of household lighting can help regulate our circadian rhythms. These rhythms—the mental and behavioral changes that occur in response mostly to light cues over each 24-hour period—affect hormone releases, body temperature and the sleep-wake cycle, according to the National Institutes of Health. Studies have connected circadian-rhythm disruptions with obesity, depression and diabetes. Better lighting also lifts our moods and improves our quality of life, researchers say.*”

*Source: Uclilia Wang, The Wall Street Journal

Incorporate Natural Grains and Textures

Another obvious way to include natural elements in your office renovation is through natural grains and textures, like wood. Modern designer panels are now available in a tremendous variety of natural wood grains and textures. These panels can convert entire walls from neutral and bland, to inviting and comforting. They can also be used for matched furniture or cabinetry to unify texture across work spaces.

Beyond wood and plants or plant-like materials, there are several components and textures that invite a more natural feel to an office design:

  • Exposed brick
  • Concrete floors
  • Stone counters, tables or other accents
  • Using plants and flowers in finishes, artwork or focal wall

Include Indoor Green Spaces

Creating islands of green for plants and small trees, is a great way to utilize empty corners or create a natural, central focal point in larger spaces. If space is at a premium, adding 

The benefits of including plants in your office for your employees can be staggering*: 

  • Indoor air pollutants 87 % in 24 hours,
  • Overall stress by 60 %,
  • Anxiety by 37 %,
  • Fatigue by 38 %,
  • Headaches by 20 %,
  • Noise by up to 50 %.

*Source: Control Solutions Inc.

Create Quiet Spaces

Open concept offices may decrease employee engagement and productivity because they feel a lack of privacy. Consider designing a dedicated quiet space, filled with natural elements, where employees can go to relax and refresh.

Plan an Outdoor Space

When embarking on your new office design, don’t neglect designing a potential outdoor space you might have access to as part of that process. Does your space have a rooftop patio or courtyard? Imagine an outdoor production meeting! Not only does this give employees an alternative place to convene, it’s also has great potential for company events and parties. 

The possibilities are as unlimited as nature itself. Feel free to contact us when you’re ready to invite Mother Nature inside with your renovation. 

Want to learn more? Read more in our natural office series: