If your employees are bored, stressed out or burned out, could a touch of nature in the office be the answer?
According to a new report by Human Spaces, employees whose workplaces incorporate natural elements, such as natural light, greenery and views of the outdoors, are more productive, more creative and feel more positive about their work.
Nearly half of employees surveyed in The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace have no natural light in the workplace, and almost six out of 10 have no greenery (live plants). But when these elements were introduced into workplaces in various experiments, employees had a 15 percent higher level of well-being, were 15 percent more creative and were six percent more productive overall.
Biophilics studies the relationship of humans to the natural world — a relationship that’s becoming more important as more people migrate to urban environments. In fact, one-third of respondents in the survey say the way an office is designed is so important that it would affect their decision to accept a job or not.
In today’s high-stress workplace, the report says, “Nature contact has a restorative effect on people, helping them deal with day-to-day stress and … maintain their work performance.” Even if you don’t have employees, nature can have the same effect on you. How can you bring more of nature into your office, co-working space or home-based business? Here are some suggestions from Human Spaces.
Get More Out of Your Employees Using Nature
Start at the Entryway
If you have a lobby or foyer in your office, adding bright colors and live plants can give you and your staff an energy boost from the minute you walk in the door. Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents report feeling happy when walking into bright office environments accented with green, yellow or blue. In addition, those who have internal green space in the workplace are nearly twice as likely to feel happy and inspired when entering the workplace, while those without green space were almost twice as likely to feel anxious or bored about the day ahead.
Promote Natural Lighting
Natural lighting is by far the most-desired element in office design, cited by 44 percent of employees. In addition, employees with window views spend significantly more time at the office each week than employees without them. Ideally, this means locating employee workspaces near an outside window. Figure out how you can rearrange your office layout to bring more light inside, whether by removing curtains, window blinds or furniture that blocks natural light. To maximize the benefits of natural light, consider locating common areas near the windows instead of the old-fashioned approach of giving a few key employees the coveted window seats. Skylights are another option for providing natural light for everyone. If you don’t have many windows, choosing indoor lighting that most closely mimics the spectrum of natural light is helpful.
Use Color to Energize
Natural colors — specifically, white, yellow, browns, greens and blues — boosted the productivity, happiness, enthusiasm and creativity of employees in the survey. You can use color selectively to achieve different goals: For example, paler natural shades can help people calm down and focus, while brighter shades will energize them for creative work group projects. Avoid gray (even though its very trendy right now) at all costs — it increases stress levels and drains enthusiasm and creativity.
Live plants inside the office and green space outside it boost productivity, creativity and enthusiasm. If you want to keep the costs of plant maintenance down, mixing live and artificial plants can be a budget-minded solution. So can concentrating the live plants in common areas where everyone can see them and enjoy the benefits.
Create Both Open and Quiet Spaces
Almost 40 percent of workers say they are most productive in a private office at their own desk, but the growth of open-plan offices has made this arrangement harder to come by. As a result, 28 percent of respondents say there is no quiet space to work in their workplace. Try to create quiet spaces such as comfy couch nooks or small conference areas where people can go to get peace and quiet.
Last Resort: Fake It
The study found that simulating nature, while not as effective as the real thing, is better than a workplace that has no natural elements at all. Landscape artwork or photographs, or even wallpaper that look like nature scenes, can all help boost employees’ mood and productivity. In particular, “views of the ocean” are one of the top five elements that employees want. Bring on the seascapes!
Keep these tips to get more out of your employees in mind if you’re looking for a new office space or co-working space, or setting up a home office. No matter how small your work space is, live plants on desks, nature photos on the wall and soothing natural colors can be used to help increase your energy and enthusiasm.
Office Plants Photo via Shutterstock