Incorporating Outdoor Space in the Work Environment

Bringing the outdoors in is a long-standing design concept which can be seen with trees in shopping malls and offices, the use of natural colors and finishes, and more. While bringing the outside in is beneficial, it's no substitute for actually getting outside. So today we'll be looking at some benefits of making a connection to the outdoors effortless for your office.

Start With What You Have

For many, a complete redesign isn't necessary. Just look around and use a little creativity. Do you have access to the roof? Is there a courtyard space that isn't being used? Or maybe there's some space out front that you could use. By making better use of outdoor spaces such as these, it's possible to experience many unforeseen benefits for everyone who works at your office. Which leads us to the first benefit...

The Outdoors Can Affect Your ROI

Recent studies have suggested that spending time in nature can lead to increased focus, improved creative thinking and problem solving, as well as increased happiness. These benefits can have a dramatic impact on employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Offices can, at times, be an incredibly distracting environment – ringing phones, noisy conversations, and intrusive instant messages can make it nearly impossible to concentrate.
Several recent studies indicate that the distractions of working indoors can have a considerable negative impact on our productivity. And a well-designed outdoor workspace can help to reduce the impact of office distractions and lead to improved performance.
In short, making the outdoors more accessible and usable can dramatically increase employee productivity and ROI.

Considering Some Logistics

When it comes to designing an outdoor workspace, it is critical to consider the impacts of technology and weather on functionality. Depending on the geographic location of your outdoor workspace, sunshine, heat, cold, rain, and wind can all necessitate the inclusion of specific components in the design of the space. In summer months, it's important to include sunshades, canopies, and umbrellas to provide relief from the sun. Incorporating fans, and even misters can provide additional relief from the heat.
Providing comfort during the colder months can typically be accomplished with heat lamps, outdoor fireplaces, and fire pits. Incorporating these design elements in your outdoor workspace can also help to create an environment where collaboration thrives.
Technology is also a major consideration when it comes to designing an outdoor workspace. These days, connection 24/7 with our laptops, tablets, and cellphones are critical for getting work done. So, if you want your outdoor spaces to actually get used, make sure to include power outlets and WiFi connectivity and possibly even the addition of an outdoor tv.

Do What You Can

There are a variety of simple ways to incorporate the outdoors in your workspace. Even if it’s not possible to retrofit your current work space to include the outdoors, providing options such as break areas in outdoor common spaces, inviting employees to take a walk or have an option to work outside, or simply bringing in more outdoor elements such as plants and natural daylight – can have a big impact on employees’ concentration and focus, creativity, happiness, productivity, and engagement.

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