Grass is greener with an outdoor space
The concept of Biophilia explains that humans have an innate tendency to connect with nature and other forms of life. This idea, throughout the years has brought the trend of bringing nature inside the office. However, in the ever-changing landscape of the workplace, the idea of bringing the workplace outside has also recently started to gain popularity.
In a study by Colarelli SM, O’Brien K, Boyajian ME (2016) on “Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes”, it was found that natural elements buffered the relationship between role stressors and job satisfaction, depressed mood, and anxiety. Ultimately, natural elements exposure and sunlight exposure was positively related to job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
With the continuous emphasis on employee health and well-being, more and more companies are seeing the importance of utilizing their outdoor spaces and now, even developers and owners of urban office buildings are now adding terraces and transforming once-barren rooftops into park-like settings, where workers can meet, interact, relax or even use them as alternatives areas to work. Although outdoor space has been considered as a “luxury” for offices, how exactly can these outdoor spaces give companies an edge when utilized to their full potential?
According to an online survey conducted by CNN Philippines, most Filipinos believe that their job or studies are the main causes of their stress. As such, stress can disrupt critical functions in the brain with regard to self-control and decision-making, which in turn encourages addictive behavior and poor lifestyle choices and thus, proves itself as a possible risk at school or in the workplace. With the proper use of their outdoor space, employers have the opportunity to help their employees lessen the effects of stress. Studies have shown that exposure to the outdoors, reduces Cartisol levels by 12% and increases one’s relaxation state by 55% and ultimately, helping employers in managing to keep their employees happy and engaged.
Every organization seeks innovation in order to differentiate its products and services. According to an article by Gensler, Chance encounters are those occasions when people who have no scripted reason to be with one another–they may not even know one another–nevertheless find themselves together and end up co-creating the “Next Big Thing”. Outdoor spaces can serve as avenues for chance encounters as they are open to your employees from different divisions. Logic dictates that if one chance encounter leads to one innovation then surely a steady stream of chance encounters will lead to a multitude of innovations.
As businesses continue designing green offices by creating lush green walls, decorating with plants, introducing sustainable materials and implementing various energy-efficient solutions, outdoor spaces serve as yet another invaluable avenue for a sustainability especially since the space is naturally exposed to the elements. An office patio, garden or balcony can become a natural oasis with the proper kinds of vegetation as they could help provide employees and tenants cleaner air as a long-term impact.
The concept of the outdoor experience would always be an important factor in workplace designs today. Even if offices do not have access to these outside spaces, there are a variety of ways to help your employees get the best possible experience. Nevertheless, outdoor spaces prove to be very effective areas that can be utilized to greatly benefit both employers and employees through smart and innovative designs.