Jun 13, 2018
The standard workplace with rows of desks, bland white walls and workers who punch in and out between 9-5 is fast becoming a thing of the past. These days, a large percentage of the population work unusual hours, with many people communing in shared office spaces designed to increase flexibility and creativity.
As we spend more hours at work than ever before, our workspaces, no matter where they are, contribute to our wellbeing. That means it’s important for modern office spaces to be relaxing, comfortable and healthy.
The latest research into office wellbeing shows that incorporating wood and nature into the workspace can positively impact workers’ wellbeing, enabling your business to increase performance and job satisfaction. Here are my tips for creating a beautiful yet highly functional office space that promotes productivity, too:
One of the simplest and easiest ways to transform any workplace is with plants. It sounds almost too simple, but think about it; how do you feel when you walk in the park or go for a bush walk? Refreshed? Energised? Uplifted?
Research can now back these feelings up, as there’s now evidence that walking in nature reduces blood pressure, which results in us all feeling more calm and relaxed. This same feeling can be mimicked by surrounding ourselves with plants, which soften the room, while the wide-ranging shades of green calm our eyes and contrast against the harder, shiny surfaces in the office space. They also help clean the air, so it’s a win-win all round.
We all live busy lives, with most of us spending about half an hour outside each working day – so it’s crucial that the time we spend indoors is as inspiring as possible. Of those interviewed in the report, 65 percent stated that they felt less stressed working in spaces that included timber finishes. It makes sense, as technology means most of us spend a fair chunk of our day staring at lit-up screens!
Timber furniture creates a natural material for our eyes to rest on, and a timber desktop allows us to look away from manufactured surfaces like keyboards and screens. Timber stools can provide extra seating if a colleague stops by to discuss a project, and if you’re like me, they can also provide somewhere to dump a pile of files if you’re on the run. Shelving units, work benches and even light fittings can also be made out of timber, creating a stunning stress-free work environment that also looks like the cover of designer magazine.
One issue with the all-too-popular open plan office layout is privacy. It's not about hiding what you’re doing; it’s that the feeling of being out on show or in the midst of a busy environment can prove too distracting for some.
Well-placed decorative timber screens can break up direct eye lines between different zones in the workplace, without impacting the positive effect of the open office feel. These screens can be placed between desks, used to help create a corridor or screen off printers and photocopiers. Office designers can conjure up endless ways to create visually stunning yet practical room dividers, whilst promoting concentration and therefore productivity.
We are so lucky to live in a country where we have such a rich and wide range of timber finishes to enjoy, and they are super hard wearing, enabling us to sand back and refinish them over and over again.
The range of natural stains and sealers also means we can enjoy timber tones that work with a huge range of internal schemes, just like our homes – so the humble workspace can be cutting edge and right on trend. Another important thing to remember when using timber materials for building, is that apart from the positive way they make us feel, timber can be responsibly harvested and replaced with new trees – creating habitat and shade, and increasing our air quality at the same time.
I often talk about the benefits of linking the outside and inside of our homes, and it’s no different when it comes to our workspaces. As stated in the Wellness and Wood research, the link between job satisfaction and productivity has been established in many academic papers, and it has actually been proven that retail rental rates are higher in those workplaces with a greater link to the outdoors.
What is also interesting is that customers were willing to spend 8-12 percent more for goods and services! Why? Because the space simply feels so warm and inviting, that customers and clients don’t want to leave.
To invite nature in and blur the lines between indoors and outdoors, it may be as simple as opening the windows to allow fresh air flow, or it may require greater attention to the landscaping linking to your workspace — for example, entryways, vertical gardens, green spaces, or sleepers with raised garden beds in the lunch area.
By paying attention to the amount and location of landscaping and timber in your workplace, both your staff and customers will enjoy the positive benefits. When this in turn positively affects your business, it suddenly becomes an important focus. So what are you waiting for? Consider ways to improve your landscaping and increase the use of timber in your workplace, so you, your staff and your bank balance can all enjoy the benefits.
James is a Sydney based Interior Designer, TV Presenter and writer, who loves to share his passion for houses, colour, good design and recycling. With over 20 years experience within varying roles in the building industry, his vast experience and expertise includes such positions as qualified Real Estate Agent, Kitchen and Bathroom Designer and qualified Interior Designer.