Here are five ways to invite nature into your office space and transform it into an airy and bright sanctuary that can raise the spirits of employees and clients alike.

Nature heals, soothes and restores. Just a simple walk along the beach or a stroll through the woods can quiet your mind and help you feel more grounded. Our affinity for nature, or biophilia, is deeply rooted in evolution and can increase social interaction, relieve stress, encourage physical exercise and even soothe mental illness. When the outdoors is brought into the workplace, it also can do wonders for the health and well-being of employees. Workers exposed to sunlight and other natural elements in the office report better moods, increased job satisfaction and more commitment to their employer. Here’s how to make it happen in your workplace.

Let the Sun Shine In

A well-lit office makes an interior space feel brighter, breezier and more open. Exposure to natural light in the workplace has been linked to improved sleep and vitality. One study found that people who work in offices with windows sleep about 45 minutes more each night, compared to employees whose offices lack windows. Being stuck in a windowless room with fluorescent lights can impair work performance, negatively affect employees’ circadian rhythms and cause daytime dysfunction.

To improve matters, try incorporating more natural lighting by removing curtains and blinds, and rearranging furnishings that obstruct light from entering a space. Replacing opaque partitions with glass ones also can increase employees’ exposure to daylight. If your office faces a window on an empty interior roof, consider installing a green roof to enliven the space and help save on energy costs.  

Add Natural Touches

Mimic the forces of nature by incorporating photos or artwork featuring landscapes, seascapes or other natural settings. This can help promote feelings of happiness and boost overall productivity. Surrounding employees with outdoor décor can counteract stress, so amp up your office greenery by adding indoor planters with flowers, green plants and trees. You can even hang planters from the ceiling to save space while providing a fresh, modern aesthetic.

These natural elements can have a soothing effect and distract the mind from negative thinking. Plants also can increase oxygen levels in the office, which can help reduce mental fatigue. Encourage workers to keep smaller, potted plants such as succulents, cacti or bamboo at their workstations for a splash of green. Or get creative by building a living green wall or vertical garden.

Incorporate Nature Sounds

Bring the sensory experience of the outdoors into your office by incorporating the sounds of nature. If your space allows it, consider adding a water feature or pond to help muffle the noise from cubicles and boost employees’ relaxation and focus. A desktop fountain can accomplish the same effect on a smaller scale.

Choose Natural Materials

If you have the opportunity to design your space from scratch, consider using natural building materials and furnishings. Opt for bamboo or wooden desks instead of metal or plastic, for example, or choose natural wood flooring instead of carpet. This brings a touch of nature indoors while remaining visually pleasing. An extreme modern biophilic design also can include concepts such as building around live trees and making them the focal point of the office.

Utilize Outside Areas

Does your workplace include an outdoor space such as a roof, balcony or garden? Use it to your advantage by adding comfortable seating and tables so employees can work outdoors when the weather permits. Your staff will gain direct access to natural light, vitamin D and fresh air, which can help restore mental clarity and promote innovation and general well-being.

Incorporating natural elements in your office design is essential for maximizing your business potential. Consider enlisting the help of your employees by getting their opinion on improvements, so you can create a lively and stimulating workplace that can benefit everyone.   

Guest blog post author bio: Michael Burnett is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Midwest Tropical. Midwest Tropical creates indoor waterfalls, water walls, bubble walls, fountains, rain curtains and other water features in its advanced design and manufacturing facility near Chicago, Illinois — allowing for complete customization to design and build the highest-quality water features in the world.